The world just doesn’t feel safe any more. I’d better give a little context as to why. You see, I just learned that what I thought was the work of carpenter ants is actually that of carpenter bees. I never knew such things existed! This still might not give you the thrills you were hoping for, so here goes a true story: when I was maybe six or seven my mother took my older and younger brother and me to a place in the woods where we could run around and holler and not bother anybody. We had our dog there too, as well as our grandmother. After a while my brothers started a game—throwing a stick to see who could get to it first, me or our dog. I was running along, stepped on a stump, closely followed by the dog, when a swarm of angry yellowjackets flew out. I was wearing shorts at the time and received multiple stings on my bare legs. We didn’t think our dog would survive; he was completely covered. So I have a thing about bees.
My phobia isn’t as bad as it used to be. I’ve been stung many times since, and it always feels like an insult as well as a bad memory. (I still don’t wear shorts, except on very rare occasions, when the bee quotient is zero.) Believing in turning the other cheek, I’ve even captured and released bees from the house rather than killing them. Still, to this day, when I get a haircut if the woman pulls out a set of clippers you have to pry my fingers from the naugahyde when she’s done. Anything that sounds like buzzing near my ears sends me into spasms of terror. Please pardon the graphic fear. It’s heartfelt.
I used to have nightmares about killer bees. I still worry about them a lot, and wonder that if, instead of a wall, we might put up a massive, small-weave net this side of Texas. I don’t know how high they fly, but we should try to do something, don’t you agree? Now I’ve learned that bees can eat you out of house and home, literally. The carpenter bee, to the untrained eye, looks like a bumblebee. They’re big, heavy-bodied insects that can crawl through three-eighth-inch holes, perfectly round the insect guy tells me. They’ll eat and mate, and release their larva, ready to grow stingers, into the world of my back porch. They appear to enjoy the global warming, judging by their numbers. Maybe it’s a good thing we settled not far from Nazareth because a friendly carpenter might soon come in handy.