Man vs. Beehive — An April 1 Showdown

by Keith Yancy

April 1, 2012

I have a beehive. 

In fact, I have a very, very large beehive, somewhere within the wall of my living room inside my house.  I’ve been trying to get rid of these uninvited pests for almost three years.  The fact that they’re honeybees compounds the problem, because people generally feel sorry for them (they’re dying due to pesticides) and when I bring up the topic to friends and relatives, I suspect they not-so-secretly think I’m cruel for trying to get rid of them.

I think it’s important to point out that I have nothing against honeybees.  They have never been aggressive, and I appreciate all the bee-related jobs they do.  I just don’t want them in my house, where — in the few quiet moments that occur in a house with three kids — I can hear them through the living room wall.   That, and the fact that they occasionally swarm outside the hive, creating an impressive but massive cloud of bees that even neighbors have stopped to marvel at.

Today, I decided to make a new attempt to get rid of them.  In the past, I’ve tried hiring a beekeeper (none would come to Plymouth due to distance) or poisoning them (both myself and with an exterminator), but nothing worked.  Bees by the thousands, coming and going via a hole in my exterior trim work.  But today, I decided on an entirely new strategy — getting them out by going through the wall in my living room.

It started well.

I began by drilling a 1-1/2-inch hole in the drywall where the hive is located, and immediately stuck a shop-vac nozzle into the hole.  Rather than vacuum them, however, I felt it would be a better idea to start by blowing air into the hive to get them sufficiently active.  This, by my thinking, would help me both blow out some of the bees from the hive, and potentially drive the queen out of hiding — something I’d been trying to do (unsuccessfully) for three years.

So, I blasted this massive beehive with air for a few minutes.  Nothing happened, at least as far as I could make out.  No huge massive cloud of bees left the hive, at any rate.  Eventually, I grew tired of this, so I quickly changed the shop-vac direction to vacuum them out.  This resulted in immediate progress.  I soon found myself with a 16-gallon shop-vac absolutely FULL of angry, swarming bees. 

Once I decided that I’d vacuumed up all the bees, I blocked off the hole, turned off the vacuum, and decided that, for the safety of everyone involved, I’d take the vacuum outside so that there wouldn’t be any stray bees flying around inside my house.  This was nerve-wracking… the vacuum was literally shaking with thousands of angry, vacuumed bees trying to get out to attack.  Anyway, I took the shop-vac outside onto the front lawn.

That’s where my plan began to fall apart.

Because the shop-vac was bulky, heavy and shaking, I somehow put it down on the lawn a bit too roughly, and the top promptly came off.  Not just a little — the top, almost in slow motion — first popped loose, and then inexorably slid off, just as I was trying to let go of each of the side handles.  I suddenly found my face, in fact my entire head, about 4 inches away from several thousand swarming, confused, angry bees.

Any hope that the bees would somehow leave me alone was immediately abandoned.  They came straight for me as I dropped the vacuum and started running.  I can still recall the shrieks of my wife and kids (safely in the house) when they saw what was happening.  Rather than risk getting them stung by trying to immediately run into the front door, however, I sadly thought that I could outrun them.

There’s something quite pathetic about seeing a man running around his own home, waving his arms wildly in the air and shouting, while a large swarming cloud of bees remains somehow perpetually buzzing and swarming all around him.  I was about 20 feet into my failing escape when the bees decided that the yellow gym shorts I was wearing was a good stinging target, and proceeded to take turns stinging me in my behind.  They were not patient nor polite about this, and immediately commenced with stinging my backside multiple times at once. 

I yelled some more as I rounded the garage and headed for the backyard, but they were having no trouble both keeping up with me and stinging me at the same time.  The very air around me was vibrating with their anger.  I remember making it to the backyard deck and going up the stairs, shouting and getting stung every step of the way… and then discovering that the first glass doorwall I tried to open was, tragically, locked. 

I did not stop to reflect on this disappointment.  Instead, I moved to the second doorwall and found it open.  I rushed in, closed the door, and killed off the few bees who chose to follow me inside, as my kids shouted and ran for safer parts of the house.  As I began to take stock of the number of stings I’d collected on my backside, I watched with a new respect as a massive cloud of bees swarmed with fury outside my glass doors, desperately wanting to continue their attack.  It might have been my imagination, but I think some wasps and hornets joined in just for spite.

That was three hours ago.  The current situation is as follows:

  1. The bees have now returned to their hive, inside my wall, angry but otherwise unfazed.
  2. I have a hole in my wall, an empty shop-vac laying on my front lawn, and a pretty large collection of dead bees smashed in various areas of my kitchen.
  3. My family refuses to enter the living room, because of the hole in the wall (which is still temporarily blocked).
  4. My behind has too many bee stings to count.  No, I’m not allergic to bee stings.

In other words, the bees are just fine, while me, my house and my vacuum look like we just lost a battle.  Because we did.

Just in the past 15 minutes, I’ve been contacted by the Distinguished Union of Hivemasters — Wasps, Hornets and Yellow Jackets division (DUH-WHY) regarding opportunities to star in their “How Not-To” series.  As I contemplate this new business opportunity while remove stingers with a mirror and tweezers, I’m thinking about leaving the house to the bees… and maybe the vacuum, too.

Happy April Fools Day.

Until next time… 🙂


4 comments so far

  1. Stephanie Hobson on

    Good one Keith… I literally LOLD!

  2. Patrice on

    Hey Keith – While I can LOL in one way….My sis and B-I-L faced the same situation – he sealed the upstairs, ripped out the drywall, and bombed the h out of it. It was Amityville horror for several weeks.

    Not having any hands-on experience with the horror, and as an avid gardener, I took bee/wasp stings all in stride…until 5 years ago. On my hands and knees weeding, I ran into a nest – often in the ground for wasps, and sustained about 6 stings. Three weeks later, I was still itching incessantly. Cellulitis set in. IM steroids and a steroid pack later, I was fine.

    UNTIL the next time. Another totally innocent encounter. Except this time, within 15 minutes, I looked like someone who had lost control of my nervous system. And I had (not technically…it was some other bio-system).
    Within 15 minutes, my body was one big miserable, itching hive and I was in ER.

    Next time, they think it will affect my trachea and lungs. Having spent the first 50 years of my life symptom-free, I now carry an epi-pen. So be careful bud.

    BTW, there’s a bee-keeper near me in Rochester. The monks downtown at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen also keep bees all over the city and in Richmond. Maybe they can help?

  3. dylan on

    just install some one way bee escapes doofus

  4. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who had been conducting a little research on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I discovered it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this issue here on your site.

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