I was on my way home from work and decided to stop off at timmies to grab a coffee and bring one home to my brother as a surprise.
During the summer months when my nieces were off school, they had endeavored to create their own version of the babysitters club-- crafts, children and chaos included.
Since I know my brother tends to like calm and quiet, I figured he might enjoy the coffee and the excuse to escape to the back deck for some quiet, coffee, and sunshine.
I pulled around the corner and into the driveway, put the car into park and gathered my things before opening the door. As I looked up I saw my brother standing there, his face as white as my legs in the dead of winter. I opened the door, only slightly enough to stick my arm out to hand him a coffee, then using my leg while simultaneously trying to balance my purse, laptop bag, coffee and cell phone, I kicked the door open the remainder of the way. Before my foot made it half way to the crushed gravel driveway, my brother began to speak.
"We have a problem." He began, "I was cleaning out the shed, right? For the drive to the dump, you know?"
I studied him quizzically for a moment, wondering what had my big, smart, normally calm, bald headed, goatee sporting, tough guy looking brother in such a tail spin.
"There was Butter…” He continued, “Why is there butter? Like on the mail boxes.... And then bees, and, Stef, there were a lot, the dogs- they can't go out- because of the butter- so the hose, I got the hose- they didn't like that but I did it, and, I think, well I don't really get scared a lot- but I was scared- you need to come see."
Through the broken sentences, gasps of air, and panic induced incohesiveness, I was able to learn that as he was cleaning out the shed, he came across some Christmas decorations- "north pole" mail boxes that my sister had picked up- that were covered in cotton balls to simulate snow, glitter, paint- the works. They were spectacularly tacky and over the top.
The plan was initially to make them into a family project- when the weather got colder we would strip them down, clean them up and redecorate them. It would seem however that some not so friendly neighborhood bees had a plan of sweeter variety, and had decided to build a hive in them. I had lived through my share of wasps nest, had heard horror stories of hornet nests, but never in my life have I heard of someone with a "beehive" who wasn't in the business of, well, honey.
I learned of how the hive resembled a hunk of butter that rested in and on the mailbox and nearly spit my coffee out of my mouth as my brother described hiding behind the hose, spraying it into the shed in an attempt to fend off the bees and then dashing back and forth into the shed to pull everything out, spraying, dashing, darting, running from the wet angry bees he'd worked into a frenzy; bagging up anything with a remote trace of butter on it.
As he led me to the back yard I noticed a remarkable absence of mailboxes, hives or bees, counting a grand total of 10 or 12 lost little honey makers, wondering where their queen was. My brother explained that he had managed amid the angry wet bees to dispose of everything. Realistically, that in and of itself should have solved the problem. But the new problem was the fear of their return which has buzzed its way deep into my brothers core, as this 300 lb bundle of panic stood before me, looking to me to find a solution.
So against both out better judgment, out came the hose as we both sprayed, dashed, and darted- carefully spraying pesticides, cautious to keep it away from anywhere the dogs wandering noses may lead them, and frantically attempting to hang wasp traps filled with sweet smelling nectar to attract the bees and keep them there—a fantastic item I may add to be toting around in a yard filled with angry wet, confused, frazzled bees.
At the end of the day, we were left with a half hour before bed filled with hysterical laughter about what on earth our neighbors must have thought we were doing, zero bee stings, and thankfully, no more shed butter. Though the problem itself had been solved by a frantic panicking hose wielding brother of mine, long before this coffee toting girl had even pulled up to the house, the real solution came in learning that just as the bees had come together in hope of finding their queen, buzzing about in growing numbers, there was strength in numbers—strength in the support of another through the throws of a daunting task—even if those numbers included two hopeless frantic hose spraying, trap laying, balls of panic, who played a daring game of chicken with some angry wet frazzled bees.