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August 31, 2015 / thackersam

August 30 – The New Neighbor

beeJust before dusk on Wednesday, I noticed a bee crawl into a small hole in the concrete near the top right hand (my right hand, not the bee’s) corner outside my window. Of course it’s the window that faces the river that I like to leave open a few inches, keeping my very large Max in mind. I am scared of bees, and for these purposes please note that when I say bees, I include wasps and hornets. In fact, the one person I knew that was more afraid of bees than me was our friend Amy, the one that had passed away four months before Vicki did. Her passing was not bee-related, I am just mentioning it because she was truly terrified of bees and her behavior when a bee, wasp or whatever was in the vicinity made me have to be the strong one and may just have inspired me to be braver around them. That however doesn’t mean that I feel comfortable when I am in their presence. “It’s a fly” Amy and I would repeat to each other when something buzzed near, whether it was or not, trying to convince ourselves that it really was. My new neighbor is no fly, and my biggest hope for him is that he is indeed a bee and not a yellow jacket. The thought of him perchance entering my abode had caused a minor panic regardless.

My problem in dealing with the situation is one of respect. I don’t like killing anything, especially if it’s just doing what it does. I’ve mentioned before how I escort out ladybugs that have inadvertently landed in my home and try to encourage flies to go back to the opening, which has worked a time or two. But what’s worse than causing another creature to die is causing another creature to suffer to death. And what is even worse than that is being trapped and scared, and suffering to death. (Note to readers: I am not a vegetarian, however if forced to be I’d be able to do so as long as you leave me my cheese.)

I could call building management and they would come plug up the hole, which I guess would be the responsible thing to do if there were an infestation. But I needed to observe before I put a possibly harmless creature at risk. Though I did close the window when I noticed the bee, the hole at the top of the window is far enough away from the opening at the bottom. Plus, I was mighty impressed with this guy. I am on the 35th floor after all, a big climb and not only does he have the stamina to get all the way back home, he remembers where it is. It’s a little hole in a big city. How freakin’ amazing is that? Plus, it’s late in the season and what I know about bees is that they do weaken as they near their time, which makes them cranky and more apt to do something that could cause them to lose their stinger at my expense. I may be able to deal with this, unless he does turn out to be a yellow jacket, a member of the wasp family, and they’re just mean and ornery, and don’t lose their stingers so can just keep coming at you.

So I waited, and the next evening, just about 6, I saw him leave. I pulled a chair up to the closed window with my feet up on the HVAC to watch for my new neighbor’s return, which he did, just before dusk. He circled a bit as he homed in on the hole and flew right in. About 10 minutes later, he popped out, flew around and went back in, repeating this twice more, I assumed. As I was busy writing about just how amazing I think he is, I did not see him leave the third time, and the return made me wonder if this was a companion and the out then in motions of the then first bee was his way of alerting his guest to the location by waving about yelling “Hey Harold, over here!” That made me a bit uneasy, so I grabbed the old, family kitchen ladder and through a not so clean window, glasses that need updating, and with a bad angle of the hole, I noticed that he was cleaning and didn’t see signs of a second bee. Specks of yellow dotted the hole’s entrance and as his butt end was visible, I saw him cleaning the pollen off his legs. Or perhaps he was gathering, I couldn’t tell, but when he was done, his porch was clean and he seemed to be bedding down for the night. From this I determined that he was on his own, the hole was shallow and most importantly, he was a honeybee, as I don’t believe that yellow jackets are pollen gatherers. As it got darker, I climbed the kitchen ladder one more time, briefly shined a pen light into the hole in which the bee was still visible, and returned the ladder to where Max likes it. Feeling all was well, I opened the window.

Then came Friday. I was home by 3pm, and saw my new tiny neighbor coming and going for the rest of the afternoon, and when it was almost dark, I shut off the air conditioner and opened the window figuring he had settled in for the night. Of course he had other ideas and about a half an hour later, he flew into my apartment. Freaked, I cried out, “No, you didn’t just do that, did you?” The last thing I wanted to do was to kill him, but I grabbed my fly swatter, which is actually only used on mosquitos, and prepared myself for a showdown. But he was not looking for a confrontation. I don’t know what he intended now that he had gone from neighbor to roommate, but I only spotted him twice that night, once flying into one of my torch lamps and then leaving it to an undisclosed location. He was still very quick. Max was well aware that we had a guest and remained alert throughout the night. I know this because I had left the torch lamps on in case the bee was looking for that warm resting place, and to keep him from resting anywhere near me. At about 4am I awoke to the sound of Max running around, obviously chasing something. But when I fell back asleep, he seemed to still be in active pursuit and doing more staring than anything else. I was hoping that the bee made it out the window, but I have not seen him since. I checked the torch lamps, which were filled with dust and dead bugs and one live ladybug who eagerly climbed on to my finger and with a little coaxing, flew out the east window as there is a balcony below so not to throw her out a 35 story window if she were not strong enough to handle it. Dead or alive, there was no bee, but you’ll be pleased to know I cleaned the lamps thoroughly as I should do more often. It’s possible that I will find the bee carcass in some other resting place, or not. And if Max knows what happened to the bee, he’s not talking.

Having strayed from the theme of the blog, which has nothing to do with bees, on the music front I further explored the Trouble Buddy box and withdrew Midnight Radio by James Lee Stanley. It’s the only record in the bunch of which I have never heard of the artist. Not a hint, don’t even recognize a single note. Upon research, this is one of a few of his albums, it came out in 1980 and he is a folk/light rock (mellow rock) musician, and I believe he is still active. Coincidentally, we share a Facebook friend, who is NOT Trouble Buddy (if it were, it might have explained this choice), and I have a pretty limited number of Facebook friends.

Weight wise – it’s coming along and I think I might come within striking distance of the goal by the goal date, but perhaps not quite make it. I’m not dismayed, I have seen signs that it is attainable with a stricter diet, but sometimes things come up, like my recently departed charge who presented me with a pastry from Financier on her last day. I was hoping that it wasn’t chocolate because then I could resist, but it’s very nice when people know you oh so well. One’s gotta live and I don’t do this often, although bread may be the ruin of me.

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