We may no longer have an active bee hive in our backyard.
There is really no other way to start this story – I thought I woke up because I needed to pee. It was 3 AM. I was sleeping in the guest bedroom. I had been sick. The 13 month old baby was sleeping in our bed with Mekayla. Retreating to the guest bedroom sometimes means I sleep better. After getting back in bed, and starting to fall asleep, my hazy mind was starting to realize there were some odd noises occurring. Some sort of rustling. But more ominous than “rustling” implies.
Odd noises are not particularly odd in our house. I mostly tune them out. Kristine and Laurent and their twin three and a half year olds have been living with us for over two years now. Their bedrooms are above ours, so I’ve learned to tune lots of little noises out. This was just a little noise, but different.
It kinda sounded like when the milkman delivers milk in the middle of the night on Sundays. A bit of rustling as he digs around in the cooler we leave out by the front steps. Sometimes you hear the bottles clink. I don’t hear any clinking bottles though. And I’m towards the side of the house, not the front where I normally sleep. And it is Saturday night. And why is he taking so long.
I’m awake now. The milkman does not make things crash. Was that upstairs? Our bedroom and the guest bedroom are in the basement. Did some shelves fall over? I almost expect to hear a three year old crying. But upstairs is quiet. Where did that crash come from? Where is that rustling noise coming from? Did it get louder?
I finally am awake enough to have some bearings. The guest bedroom I am in is right next to the bedroom that Morgan and Mekayla are in. The rooms share a wall. They also each have an egress window that goes out into the same 4 foot by 8 foot window well. The window well is about four feet deep. The bed I’m sleeping in is up against the window, so I am about two feet from it.
There is now the sound of dirt pelting the window.
I look out. My side of the window well looks dark and empty as normal. I can see the silhouettes of the back yard fence and the garden box against the sky. The other side of the window well is not empty. It is also dark. But it is moving. It is filled with a fuzzy, round bear behind. This is not good.
Why is there a bear in my window well? Well, for the past year or so Laurent has been keeping bees in our backyard. He has a large, 3 foot long bee hive that is on the ground up above our bedroom window and next to the window well. This is actually very convenient when you are a 6 foot 8 inch bee keeper. You can stand in the window well, and you are at the perfect height to look into the hive and make adjustments or harvest honey. The bear apparently finds it convenient too.
I get up and go into my bedroom. I tell Mekayla that I think there is a bear in the window well. This means there is a bear about 6 inches from the window of the bedroom. I try and peer around the window shade to look into the window well. I almost step on the dog. She is curled up in a little white ball beneath the window. She is three feet from a bear, but she looks annoyed that I almost stepped on her. There is definitely something moving out the window, but I can’t see much.
A discussion begins. What strategy does one take to get rid of a bear? Should I turn on a light? Which bedroom light do I turn on? Maybe we should turn on both so the bear will be sure to move away from both bedrooms? What will the bear do if it gets scared? What happens if the bear gets startled enough to break in the window? Its not clear to me what parts of this discussion where out loud and which parts just happended in my head.
Wait! We have more than just a bear problem. We also have an angry bee problem. When the hive was started there were about ten thousand bees. There are probably now at least forty thousand bees. Those bees are currently fighting a bear – and losing.
I had a friend in college who was certain he could win a fight with a bear as long as it was the same weight as him. I strongly disagreed, but it was a fun disagreement. I’m pretty sure I would lose any fight with a bear. And this bear looks like it weighs more than me. I also think I would lose a fight with forty thousand bees. I really don’t want to fight a bear and fight bees at the same time. Especially not in my bedroom with a 13 month old. Realistically, that is a fight where no one really wins.
Morgan is still asleep in the bed. The dog is resolutely ignoring the rummaging bear and trying to sleep under the window. I go back into the guest bedroom to try and get another look at the bear. How did he get into the yard? Its fenced in. Did he knock over a fence? If we scare him will he barrel through a fence? Or will he feel scared and trapped in our back yard?
Looking out the guest room window, I can see that the bear has turned. Yep, its definitely a bear. I see a fuzzy, round ear. I see the remains of honey comb. And I see the contour of his short, “little” bear face in silhouette. He’s both quite large, and yet not really that tall. His butt is now pressed up against the side of the foundation. Or maybe even against the screen on our bedroom window. If I scare him he may break the window behind him when he rushes up out of the window well.
So maybe we’ll get rid of the bear and just have a broken window with angry bees swarming into the room with a sleeping 13 month old. Again, I think about not wanting to fight bees. Slowly, I am coming to a resolution.
Let’s not scare the bear.
Mekayla is out of bed now too and has come to the guest bedroom as I turn away from the window. “I think I just saw it climb out.”
I look back out the window. Yep, there is no bear out there. I go upstairs, I turn on the backyard lights. I don’t see a bear. I don’t see any breaks in the fence. Back downstairs I open the shades in our bedroom to look at the scene. The entire beehive has been pulled into the window well and is standing up on its end, leaning against the house. There are white sticks I can barely make out scattered around. That is what is left of the comb frames that have been torn apart.
The dog gets up from underneath the window. She doesn’t like having her sleep interrupted. She has to rest up so she can protect us from the people and dogs that regularly walk down the street and terrorize us. What would happen if she wasn’t rested enough to bark at them all day long? Who’s going to stop them from climbing over a fence into the yard? They might break something, steal something, or threaten us.
The dog goes out of the bedroom and climbs up onto the futon to sleep. She yawns while I sarcastically thank her for defending us from the bear.
It’s 4 AM. Laurent is outside in the window well with a head lamp and wearing a bee suit. He’s the opposite of the bear. He does not fill the window well. He’s very tall and not particularly round. That’s a lot of angry bees.