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There is only one success--to be able to spend your life in your own way.-Christopher Morley
Catch the Buzz
By David
Posted March 30, 2010

It's two days before Passover 2010 and I take a mental inventory of what more is needed for the breadless week ahead. Got more matza than we can eat in a week? Check. Got peanut butter? Check. Got jelly? Check. Got cream cheese? Check. Got six-thousand dead bees in a shopping bag? Check. Ummm... Yeah, really.

I'm standing at the window of the second story in our house with a window blinds repairman. As he repairs the middle blind with the broken wand connector, I stare out the window for a moment and notice something odd: Small particles of some sort floating in the air. I recall a news segment I watched earlier today about an unexplained sudden rise in allergies around the country, and I presume that the floating particles are actually pollen blowing off the trees on this particularly windy day.

The repairman removes the blinds, as I notice that the floating particles outside are actually not falling slowly to the ground as expected but, instead, speeding up and milling about in the air. I figure that it must be a cloud of gnats and I turn my attention back to the repair.

I watch the repairman remove the caps of the blinds and slide a rod out, releasing a small plastic cartridge that is responsible for causing the blinds to open and close. He gingerly replaces the cartridge with a new one, slides back the thin metal rod, and replaces the end-caps. The repair begins and ends in a matter of minutes. The repairman sets the blinds back on the bracket and tests out the blinds. Good. Everything's working again on that window, and we turn our attention to the replacement of several battery packs used in our remote-controlled blinds in the living room.

Before heading downstairs, I briefly gaze out the window again, and notice that the cloud of gnats is thickening and it occurs to me that I'm hearing an unusual buzz. I sharpen my focus and discern not gnats, but bees. Thousands of them swirling in a large dark menacing cloud around the front of our house, the street below, and our neighbor's house. I've never seen anything like it, and I note with unwelcome irony that I'm witnessing something akin to a biblical plague, as we prepare for the Passover holiday during which we recite the list of the famous ten plagues God brought down on Egypt. Blood, frogs, lice, locusts, etc., and now -- live from the San Fernando Valley in California -- Bees???

The Swarm As Seen From Our Window
The Swarm As Seen From Our Window

The repairman is as shocked as I am. We are taken by complete surprise and unsure of what to do next, other than gawk at the bizarre scene that is unfolding right in front of our eyes. And in my case, right in front of my home. So we do the only thing possible at that moment: Pull out our phones and snap pictures.

After a few minutes of watching the swarm of bees outside nearly darken the sky, a group of boys from down the block notices the bees and the boys start to take turns quickly riding their bikes through the swarm. They are giddy, shouting to each other, and I wonder if any minute now they will start yelling because of something other than sheer delight. Some of them were actually shirtless, as it is a hot day and they're about ten or eleven years-old. The repairman and I look at each other in disbelief. I mutter "Geez... The world's dumbest kids." It was only a miracle that none of them seem to have been attacked. A disaster narrowly averted.

The swarm of bees looked angry and there were thousands of them. We speculate that a huge hive must have been knocked down by the strong winds, and the bees did not seem too thrilled about being suddenly and violently evicted from their home.

Finally, I'm able to dislodge myself from the window, and quickly ensure that all of our other windows are completely shut, and that no unauthorized bee entry had taken place. Fresh out of options, I call 9-1-1, only to be told, "Bees is something the fire department handles. Hold on," and I'm patched through to the fire department's emergency line. Upon hearing of the swarm of bees outside our house, the dispatcher tells me, "We don't handle bees. You need to call a private company." Luckily, he is able to refer me to two bee specialists. The first one I call gets the job even though I am forced to pay an emergency response fee. Otherwise, they would be glad to arrive the next day at a discounted rate...

Within 30 minutes, the bee specialist arrives at our door. It turns out that an "extra large" swarm of bees has been relocating and the Queen Bee randomly decided to settle on a row of bushes in my neighbor's front yard. The bee warrior estimates the swarm to be around 6,000 bees and I assure him that I will pay for the "removal" even though the swarm is based out of my neighbor's yard. He proceeds to don his beekeeper hat and mask, grab his super special spray canister, and heads over to the bee epicenter of the San Fernando Valley.

I watch from a safe distance, glad to be enclosed in my house with an excellent vantage point from which to watch the battle. In literally less than 5 minutes he returns to his truck, takes out a large broom, dust pan, and plastic shopping bag, and heads back to the bee battlefield. He is victorious, and he returns to his truck with a shopping bag full of several thousand dead bees.

The cloud of buzzing bees is gone, with just a few stragglers visible and so, too, a mental cloud is lifted from over my head. The blinds repairman is relieved, too, as he can finally leave our house, check in hand, camera full of photos, and a good story to boot. He's exhilarated.

I pay my dues to the mighty bee battler, and head back inside the house. Got matza? Check. Got cream cheese? Check. Got a house not being attacked by a swarm of angry homeless bees? Check. Good... Hey, where are those hagaddas?

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