To bee or not to bee -
carpenters vs. bumbles

I have a couple of Queen Mary roses and some blueberry bushes across the back of our deck.

A little beyond that, I have some azaleas and a ginormous wygeia bush. (I couldn't find the correct spelling of wygeia, but I've discovered that if I misspell something publicly, at least a dozen friends will get the correction to me post-haste.)

We love to sit on our deck in the afternoons and watch the bluebirds and assorted yard critters go about their business. The one thing that bothers us is the dang carpenter bees.

Now, I tried to go on line and find the difference between carpenter bees and bumble bees -- without any luck.

To us, the difference is that bumble bees fly around pollinating flowers and looking fluffy. Our version of carpenter bees look like big bumble bees and the creeps bore holes in my deck and in the sills around my patio door.

They leave piles of dust to help pinpoint where they've done their damage, so I don't only have a hole in my wood, but I also have a mess to clean up as well. Bumble bees are the ones we take pictures of as they flit from the wygeia to the rose. Carpenter bees are the ones that get hosed with wasp and hornet spray or batted into oblivion by the nearest, handy flip-flop.

I was able to find plenty on bumble bees, but nothing on our version of the carpenter bees. The official ones defined on Wikipedia look like cute, little, souped-up honey bees. The ones I have look like bully bumble bees. They drill holes in the hardest-to-get-to spots, where I have decorative wood (i.e. my pretty back deck). I take the defacing of our deck as a personal assault, and I'm not nice about it.

The only thing we ever found that was worse was some sort of nuclear hornets that took up in the cinder blocks of our garage. These bad boys were at least an inch long, with yellow stripes that looked a lot like rugby jerseys.

We got zoomed by them a couple of times, and when we realized how big the nest was, we decided to go on the offense.

We armed ourselves with the really nasty, long-distance squirting cans of hornet killer. We waited until dusk. Stuart shined the flashlight on the nest, and we emptied our cans full-force into the nest. Bug-killing commando/redneck style. They were not happy. They came after us.


That is the fastest I have ever run in my adult life. Stuart and I booked it like scalded cats all they way back to the house, thoroughly tickled at our handiwork and giggling like we'd gotten away with something.

Then, just as we were sitting next to the open window, one of the not-yet-deceased hornets hit the screen and scared the snot out of both of us.

I bet we jumped a foot off the sofa.

Surely, those bugs weren't smart enough to know that it was us? Surely, they didn't follow us to the house? More importantly - surely that dose-o-nasty-stuff had killed 'em all?

Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-services, networking, community organization in Henry County.