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Life Arts    H2'ed 9/3/19

In the name of co-existence

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Bald-faced Hornets at Nest
Bald-faced Hornets at Nest
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I want to tell a little story about an unlikely truce between two species who are normally adversaries -- me and some hornets. A couple of months ago I noticed that there was a hornet nest under the railing of our back deck. It was small, about the size of an eight ball, and I forgot about it. A few weeks later, the nest had doubled in size and the hornets were more active. I am against spraying for a number of reasons, because it is heartless and because it poisons the environment. Instead, I decided to knock the nest down. Being a pacifist, at least in principle, if not in consummate practice, destroying the nest was also against my principles because it would cause the hornets to suffer, and I just felt bad about destroying their home. In terms of my things-to-do list, it was at the very bottom. My sense of revulsion at the task I was preparing to undertake was visceral. I therefore put it off for another couple of weeks.

The nest was now the size of a large grapefruit. Finally I decided to take some action. I decided to knock it down during daylight to give the hornets a chance to recover and reconnoiter. I pictured leaving the cats in and the hornets swarming around the fallen nest on the ground. After a few hours of initial confusion I figured they would divide up; some would rebuild while others would start another nest somewhere or maybe most of them would just, sadly, disperse and I would eventually be able to forgive myself and forget about them. I duck-taped a hoe to a broom handle, which put about ten feet between me and the nest and used the hoe blade to sort of push the nest down. I thought it would release and fall, giving me a chance to safely withdraw. The nest did not release. It was much more resilient than I thought it would be. All I managed to do was damage it before I had to back off and concede failure. The hornets went crazy, swarming within 6-10 feet of the nest, but within a few hours they had settled down, like people after a hurricane, and all their energy went to inspecting the damage.

The next day I kept the cats in and watched the hornets begin to rebuild. I girded my heart, determined not to let them repair the nest because if they stayed we would not be able to use the deck for the last months of summer. I replaced the hoe with a flat scraper to remove it at its base. I waited a day to build up my will for the unpleasantness of upsetting them again. This time I was more focused, plotting exactly where I wanted to come in with the blade, my goal being two-fold, to dislodge the nest and to minimize the casualties. Once again, the nest resisted my best efforts. I was able to scrape off half the nest and the same chaos followed. The bees angrily swarmed, looking for their nemesis but settled down in a couple of hours to inspect the damage. The next day, they were rebuilding.

Within a week the nest was round again. It was a little misshapen but the hive recovered. Now about a month later some kind of truce has set in. The hornets have not bothered us or our cats. My wife and I just avoid their territory which extends about 6 feet from the railing. I notice that they added one interesting feature to the architecture: there is an entrance (a hole) facing the porch. I guess they want to keep their eye on us. We have made some concessions to their presence. We do not entertain on the deck and we do not act in a way that might alarm them. Except for that, we have learned to live with them. In a month or so, with the first frost, they will all naturally perish and our summer with the hornets will be over.

What have I learned? From now on I will look for hornets' nests wherever we intend to spend time and if I find one I will knock it down before it grows. I do not regret that I didn't spray. That will continue to be against my principles even though when I tell this story to people we know, even if they don't, out of politeness, I know that they want to shake their heads at my foolishness... but I really wish everyone would stop spraying all insects. What it boils down to is, I have to live with myself, and I love all the creatures, even the ones with terrible tempers and stingers. I am still trying to extend that love to my own species. I may be making some progress but, between you and me, I have a ways to go.

(Article changed on September 3, 2019 at 15:44)

 

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Gary Lindorff Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger  and author of several books, the latest: 13 Seeds: Health, Karma and Initiation. Over the last few years he has begun calling himself an activist poet, channeling his activism through poetic (more...)
 

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4 people are discussing this page, with 4 comments


David Watts

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I have been living at and taking care of my dead parents place for myself, for my brother, and for my sister. Whenever my sister visits, if she sees a wasp nest she always knocks it down. I have told her there is no need to do that. I never do. The wasps never bother me. At another place I lived there were a lot of wasps. They fly around including close to me but I have never been stung. They live their lives and I live mine. We get along just fine.

I say let the wasps live. They are beings too.

Submitted on Tuesday, Sep 3, 2019 at 8:44:11 PM

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Gary Lindorff

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But, even if they do sting, we should forgive them. I guess that's the hardest part. I am sorry to say that I see people who make and promote war as wasp-like. I am trying really hard to be patient with them, but, between you and me David, I am finding it very very hard to coexist with my quick to sting brothers and sisters. Insects can't help themselves.

Submitted on Tuesday, Sep 3, 2019 at 9:08:30 PM

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Janet Supriano

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Where I live, honeybees are now extremely rare, despite my effort to grow plants that are attractive to them. On occasion I find a dead bee on the walkway or the back patio. I can't figure it out, and it makes me sad.

However, wasps are abundant, particularly around the front geraniums. They love them; the dandelions in the lawn, too.

I'm a little wary of the wasps, but I don't shy away either. Never been bothered; never been stung. They do their job and I do mine.

Like you, I have a harder time co-existing with some of our nincompoop humans.

Submitted on Tuesday, Sep 3, 2019 at 9:47:25 PM

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Mohammad Ala

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thanks Gary for this article. I am with you on this subject. We should be able to live together.

Thanks for your time.

Submitted on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2019 at 4:01:23 AM

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