This morning, there was sawdust on my car. Like dew, it had fallen into the driveway from the fascia board of the front porch. This occurred because my porch is being eaten by bees.
Carpenter bees, to be exact. Now, the CrazyStable has supported a thriving colony of carpenter bees for years, but we have lived in harmony. We had an agreement: They mostly ate the garage, and I left them alone. I'd hoped that eventually they would consume the entire garage, or at least destabilize it to the point where I could kick it down and haul it away. (Astute readers will recall that I begged the crew of Law & Order to incinerate the garage, a request they declined in the course of filming a fire stunt inside it.) And, aside from an ongoing low-grade buffet on the skirt boards of the porch, the bees have seemed to keep up their end of the bargain.
I like bees, and carpenter bees are generally likeable bees. The males are said to behave "aggressively" (I thought they were just clumsy and friendly), but cannot sting; the females can sting, but seldom do so, since they concentrate on boring perfect tunnels into wood, where they lay their eggs and leave a little power-bar cache of nectar for the young'uns. Even their wood-destruction is slow and modest compared to the insidious havoc wrought by termites; elimination techniques proposed by various bug-science websites include low-tech measures like whacking any bees you see and plugging up the holes with corks and wood putty.
But, as they say, "the dose is the poison," and even fairly innocuous pests lose their charm when they get out of hand. The momma-bees, in full tunnel-chomping mode, work so efficiently that you can actually hear them chewing. Last summer, standing in front of the garage at twilight, I heard what sounded like a thousand Dorito-eating fairies concealed beneath the Virginia creeper, while a faint but discernible trickle of sawdust sifted down into my hair. Atta-girls, I'd say--just a bit more structural damage and the insurance company might pay for demolition.
But the porch? The porch? We need and want the porch. About 15 years ago, we had a carpenter demolish the old porch, a sagging wreck, and replicate it--bypassing the opportunity, taken by so many Flatbush old-house owners, to entomb the porch in brick and produce a sturdy new room with louvered windows. The new porch never did get painted (hence its luscious appeal to the carpenter bees), but we're getting around to it any day now; one of my many dreams for the Day Our Ship Comes In is to buy a glider for the porch so we can sit amid the fireflies of a peaceful summer's eve and watch Da Pride a Flatbush ladder truck go screaming past from the firehouse down on Cortelyou Road. Furthermore, we have a tenant now; am I to explain to this young person that the munching noise audible at dusk is...the porch being eaten?
That is why we are going to bomb the garage, which is Bee Central. We'll let off a fogger and punish their gluttonous hubris, and then I will putty up the holes--bye-bye, babies. And then maybe I won't have sawdust on my windshield in the morning.