Dealing With The Bee Population
| The Tong War of 2001 continues unabated. Dispatches from the front are piling up on my desk. It was only three weeks ago I last wrote on the conflict, but if I don't publish another accounting, readers may wonder what happened to those humorous pieces written by our correspondent, that funny little man with the mustache.
I hope it isn't reported in local papers that his body was found in no man's land. Passersby thought he was sunbathing, until an early morning jogger, perhaps a pundit, noticed his inert form with his dog next to him licking his swollen face. Doctors could not count the number of stings the enemy had laid on him.
This assumes he did not make it into the house. Had he done so, he might not have been found until winter, when the Federal Express man might wonder why his inside door was open. His clients would simply assume he was not answering his phone. His cat would set his email for automated reply and no one would be the wiser.
Dispatches of his last weeks tell of the escalating struggle with the 'bastards' as he called them. He was never sure if they were bees, wasps or hornets. All he knew was that their tails were yellow and black and protuberant. He noted that as summer wore on and flowers disappeared, they were getting hungrier and hungrier.
In the spring and early summer, he did not mind their activities. They helped produce the flowers that brought so much joy to his life. It was only when they overheard him telling an acquaintance, "Mi casa, su casa", that they began to take him at his word. In a submission of early July he noted hives attached to the overhang, which he wiped out. Then the real escalation began.
They moved in under his window ledge and behind the fake shutters that adorned his bay window. He fought back but they discovered his weakness. Though he had as much hair as his dog, his flesh was exposed in places. On the 10th he wrote of being stung twice while bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to the inhabitants of the redoubt.
He avoided serious injury and evacuation by rushing inside and venting his frustration at the top of his lungs. Only the heavens, and his dog and cat, heard him screaming, "You BASTARDS, YOU DIRTY BASTARDS!" while he pursued one enemy fighter that had followed him into his house. After killing it with a magazine, he left its corpse on the floor, a lesson to others.
The shouting and anger fended off an attack of asthma and enabled him to post that most remarkable report. I doubt that any grown man has ever so described the whining buzz of several bees as they honed in on his neck. Ever the correspondent to identify with the foot soldier, he compared the sound to that heard by retreating Polish or French troops as Stuka dive bombers strafed their columns in 1939-40.
Later he tended his wounds by daubing them with used Salada tea bags. He was not a tea drinker himself, but liked to regale visitors with a 'cuppa'. As the siege tightened, those visitors became few and far between. Now only a helicopter approaches the perimeter and drops off his mail, taking away his outgoing dispatches.
He could have waited until night to pick it up, but he found he could slip out the side door and make a dash to the drop off. On the way back, he would feint toward the side door and boldly burst through the lines and in the main entrance. On the Sunday that followed, while life went on peacefully in the rest of the world, he was stung again while attempting this foolhardy act. He survived to lead a foray that evening.
Dark was his time to strike back. With wasp and hornet spray in his left hand, he would open his screen door and let his batteries loose on the slit between the shutter and the siding on the house. The next morning he would lead a body count and report the results. Before they could regroup, he would be off to the rear lines to restock his arsenal.
The enemy moved under the window ledge, erecting a huge siege engine. A night attack wiped it out, but volunteers to remove the fortress could not be found and in a few days it was swarming again. "Hit the bastards again", he wrote, and he did that night. For good measure he pounded the shutter again. He was gleeful in his posting: "I think the war is over."
Two days later a follow up was received. He had been watching "Cabaret" the night before. The scene arrived where Max, Sally & Brian are sitting in a country biergarten. A youth with blond hair, wearing a swastika armband, strikes up the haunting "Tomorrow Belongs To Me", soon to be joined by almost everyone there. Our fearless correspondent thought the audio was extra loud. Then he realized the singing was coming from outside the house, behind the shutter and under the windowsill.
We have advised him to abandon the post, but have told him that we cannot get a helicopter onto his roof. He writes that he is out of ammo, but hopes that he, the dog and cat, will escape tomorrow evening in a hot air balloon from the deck on the back of the house. He says he was out on the deck today and heard buzzing coming from under the Adirondack chair. Pray for him, please.