Sunday, August 30, 2009

Each episode of "The Green Hornet" would start with Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Flight of the Bumblebee' and an corny voice-over urging me to 'ride with Britt Reid as he races toward another thrilling adventure! ' Then the brave crime-fighter and his loyal valet would go on to break up some evil racket or another.
Good fun and I loved it.
It was the late 1970's and you didn't have to have sat radio or a computer to find cool stuff to listen to. If you stayed up late enough, you could find just about anything. My favorite station, for example, would play a few old serials from the 1930's and then at about midnight the "Dr. Demento Show" came on, which was the best.
But I digress.
The point is that I thought the Green Hornet was very cool.
I liked him.
Actual hornets?
Not so much.
And this is relevant because I have about eleventy-billion of them living in the chimney of my kitchen woodstove. (actual hornets, not fictional masked crime-fighters)

They moved in while we were away on vacation and built themselves a cosy (and huge) nest in record time.
A quick look on the internet informed me that the fire department is to be called in only for"cas d'urgences'. And, sadly, their definition of an "urgence" is not the same as mine. The night I had to kill four hornets in the upstairs hallway so that the kids could go up to bed constituted, for me, an emergency. But the French define an official 'hornet emergency' as a case in which hornets have built their nest in your (or a close family member's) nostrils.
True story. Kind of.

As the nest was in a chimney, we were on our own. One site, though, did advise calling in a professional exterminator. That sounded good.
I looked in the yellow pages and picked one nearby -one I'd heard of . I explained my problems.
Yes, multiple problems.
I haven't mentioned it until now, because I didn't want to sound like a whiner, but not only do we have a huge hornets' nest in the chimney, we also have a massive wasp colony installed in a crack in the front of the house, just above the twins' bedroom window. We haven't been able to open the window for the last two weeks.
As tales of woe go, I felt it was pretty impressive.

The secretary was not all that impressed, though. She told me they were busy, very busy. Lots and lots of waspy/hornety issues this season, apparently.
"I'll manage to squeeze you in somehow, I guess." she sighed "When are you home?"
"We're always home. Us and our many, extremely irritable hornets. All here. At home. Together."
That got a laugh out of her and she told me the guys would come by on...Tuesday.
Tuesday seemed like a long time to wait.
JP thought so, too- which is why he got the idea of smoking them out on our own on Friday.
(People with stinging insect phobias and/or weak hearts can keep reading. Nothing really bad happens to anybody, except for a few bugs. I promise.)

He stood outside, monitoring the situation as I built up a nice, smoky fire in the woodstove. Luckily, our hornets are short-sighted, or just plain dumb, because they didn't hone in on him as the source of their misery. They just streamed out of the nest and buzzed around it, sort of upset, but unfocused.
I added more paper to the fire and went back out. There seemed to be fewer of them.
"Maybe they're going away?" JP said hopefully. "They're off looking for a new home?"
That seemed to good to be true.
What was not good at all was all the smoke backing up into the kitchen. Turns out that building a fire when your chimney is blocked is not all that great an idea, in some ways. JP poured some water on the fire and went back out to watch the nest some more.
Intent on enjoying a few minutes of peace, I went upstairs to write in my blog.
It's three flights of stairs up to my office in the attic and I just had time to walk up, turn on my computer and get my Blogspot page open, when I heard JP shouting "Beth! Come quick! We are being invaded!"
My first thought was "Not those Germans again! That's what we get for not mentioning the war!" (Just the night before we'd all been watching my dvds of 'Fawlty Towers')

I ran down the stairs and found JP in the kitchen battling hornets, rather than boches. They seemed groggy and were pretty easy to smash with a broom, but the sheer numbers were creepy. We couldn't quite figure out at first where they were coming from. But when I examined the hood over the stove (where the chimney passes through) two fell right out of it and practically onto my head. I will freely admit to making undignified, rather loud, distressed shrieks at that point.

JP had killed most of them already. My mop-up operation killed about half a dozen and I managed to block up the hole.

We thought the worst was over, but then reports started coming in: the kids said the hornets were everywhere...some in Tya's bedroom, in the master bath, in the upstairs hallway. Tya and Sev grabbed brooms and got to work. The twins cowered (which is as it should be), but the older kids cleaned out the rest of the house on their own and then all evening long did "patrols" to "verify security". (I guess our vacation at the military base this summer made an impression on them..)

There were lots of hornets in the house that day...but not hundreds. Where were the rest of them?
Here's a hint: Don't go in my garage, ever.
It seems that there is direct access from the Nest of Horrors right into it. The minute danger threatens, they buzz right on in there and swarm around on the beams. Every once in a while, a few of them fly right into the glass of the bathroom window, checking to see if it has weakened at all since the last time they tried to get in.
Grim, very grim. Like "The Birds", but with hornets.

Today they look relatively calmer and don't seem to be holding a grudge, bless their tiny brains.
They're all back in their nest, so our little experiment was lots of trouble for little real benefit. The only useful thing we learned was that we will be happy to pay a fairly large amount of money for a professional someone to get rid of them for us.

Hornet nest removal is not, in other words, a good family DIY project- which is a good thing to know.


Jennie said...

There are so many hornets at my Mamie's house outside of Annecy. I get so annoyed when we eat outside because I have an irrational fear of bugs that sting so I'm constantly tense and nervous that they're going to get me. Luckily they're staying out of our apartment, but they do really make me wish France had screens!

Craig Riecke said...

ROFLMAO! Bless their tiny little brains.

Makes me think of Saturday Night Live - machine-gun toting bees with sunglasses. "Oh no - da killer bees!"

Beth said...

Welcome to my world, Craig.
And yes, it's one that does often ressemble a sketch from SNL. It's full of incidents that are usually entertaining, but don't always make a lot of sense...

Beth said...

Jennie- ITA. I have NEVER understood what the French have against screens. do they LIKE living with flies in their homes, crawling all over the tarte tatin?

La Framéricaine said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking that no screens was an odd cultural tic.

Mike Kolb said...

More brother (your cousin) actually had his single "Fisting the Sheep" (better not to think about it) played on the Dr. Demento show twice. More Kolb family infamy. -Mike

oreneta said...

LMAO...not a family DIY guff....