While most sane people approach bee or wasp extermination with protective suits, the right training and equipment or even go out at night to lessen the chance of getting stung that didn’t seem to dawn on anybody in several places I worked at early in my career. Armed with a puff duster and a can of Aeroterm I was sent to many a job and it’s a wonder that I survived at all. Here are a couple of quick stories of bad stinging pest work that could have turned out oh so wrong.
Scaling to new heights
On my route in Baltimore I was called out to a second story apartment that had a bees nest in a couch which was on their deck over looking the parking lot. To my dismay the tenants were not home and there was no way to get in. I had planned to do my dirty work with the protection of the sliding glass door if it got hairy but now I had to come up with plan B. The pillars holding up the decks were made of fancy designer bricks and looked easy to climb and I thought at least I could get a closer look. I put my duster in my mouth like a pirate would his knife as he boarded an enemy ship and headed up. There were a few bees going in and out of a hole in the back of the couch and as I surveyed the situation I thought the nest must be small since there wasn’t a steady stream of incoming and outgoing workers. Sure enough I decided to puff ever so slightly a little of my dust of death into the hole. Big mistake! Within seconds the air was filled with angry dive bombers and as I fell back to the wall my fists tightened by instinct or divine intervention (I’m not sure) and sent a huge plume of dust into the air all around my head. I distinctly remember seeing bees come through the cloud almost right to my face as if coming in from out of focus into a full sharp view- but oddly enough they turned and flew out of the cloud as if they couldn’t see me or the powder was just to much for them to take. I knew I had to act fast so I put a cloud up in the air and then jammed the duster rod through the cloth of the couch and plunged that duster as hard as I could 2 or 3 times and headed for the bannister. I really don’t remember how I got down so fast and how I made it through that without being stung or hurt. I’m sure the dust was not the greatest thing for me to breathe at the time but without it I think the alternative would have been worse. The next day I was called into the office and my manager said he’d gotten a call from the occupants and that they were ready to reschedule. As it turned out there was no need because the bees were all dead.
Incoming from all directions
Some of you may know I love scenario paintball, I play all over the country and our team even won the SPPL national title back in 2005. The only problem with it is the local field owners know I kill bugs for a living and so quite often they’ll trade out my services for free games. I say problem because of on incident back in the 90’s. There I was in the field of action in a huge fire fight in the middle of an 80 acre wooded field. With paintballs whizzing by my head I could hear the game director on the loud speaker frantically calling my name. My first thoughts were that I had an emergency at home but when I got up to the staging area I saw 2 players that were just in enormous pain writhing about and people around them desperately wiping and brushing them off. When I got to them I saw what they were trying to remove were literally hundreds of stingers still lodged in their bodies and pulsing venom sacs that looked like something out of a Stephen King movie. The owner of the field was panicked and wanted me to get out there and do something, anything to kill those bees. I rushed to my house to get my service truck and filled my lawn rig with insecticide because I figured I might not be able to get real close with my truck and I may need my 300 feet of hose. I’m glad I did. I was able to get within about 100 feet and I fired up my engine and started for the nest. What I did not figure on was the opposition I had was not only the bees but the players on the field. You see in paintball we wear masks and certain color tape to identify who’s who. Also the promoters of the game allow tanks, (converted vans or golf carts) and all sorts of wild looking weaponry. If you’ve never tried it believe me you would love it. So here I am with a long hose and a lawn gun stalking a bees nest but the enemy players had no idea what I was doing and for all they knew I had some high powered air gun with a long hose for constant air supply and they let me have it. I was taking paint from every direction but I couldn’t shoot back and I was more worried about the huge in ground nest I had to deal with. I guess the referees stepped in after awhile because the firing stopped and I was able to shoot the nest from a safe distance and eradicate the bees. I was never stung by a single bee but you would have never known it looking at my welts from all the paintballs later that day.
I guess I should have put the “don’t try this at home” warning toward the beginning of this post but suffice to say if you learn anything from my stupidity, it was worth it—sorta.