The BeeBQ (True Story)

And now for something completely different: The short and comedic true story of the time I sort of helped save the family over Thanksgiving dinner (the same day of that blog background you see before you!).

. . .

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November 26, 2015. As is traditional, my parents invited the lot of our immediate family—including but not limited to me and my brother, dual grandparents, a great aunt and uncle, cousin, and assorted honorable relatives (which may include two old cats)—to our home in the countryside for Thanksgiving. The house rests on a manmade hill but, around us, shaggy fields and thinned forests stretch for acres. It was a chilly day; the morning sun had looked more like a shrunken moon, and the horizon blushed in the high-altitude breeze.

The meal was a late lunch which extended into dinner, and it covered enough food for both: Tender rows of light and dark meat, salads of both the fruit and vegetable variety, deviled eggs, and a whole sugary spectrum of pastries waiting in the wings. Over amiable conversation, the hours passed as swiftly as my grandmother’s homemade rolls ‘round the table.

To the right of our cramped but lavish dining room, a broad archway led to the living room where many of us made pre-meal conversation. Now, it was simply a blind spot beside where my mother and I sat near the table’s end. It was around three o’clock when, my appetite concluding, fork corralling what sumptuous scraps remained on my plate, a small, dark shape entered my peripheral vision.

I turned my head, and my eyes widened and then narrowed to see a familiar foe encroaching on our gathering: A bee. Not a honeybee or bumblebee, but a black, yellowjacket-like thing, crossing the jade-colored carpet with purpose. I knew all too well that insects, particularly this manner of bee, had a tendency to emerge in our living room more than the rest of the house. I alerted the family, rose from my seat without hesitation, and smote the insect with the sole of my Nike. The plush carpeting necessitated several stomps, but I eventually returned to the table equally flustered and satisfied.

No sooner had I sat down, though, then I noticed another bee flanking his predecessor’s husk further down the carpet. And yet another, adjacent to the coffee table! I enlisted my brother to deal with the escalated threat, and still the same thing happened: we eliminated the pests, only to turn around and spy another hotfooting it across the carpet, or resting on the windowsill, or staking out a set of drapes.

Our raucous attempts to mitigate the invasion began providing an amusing cap for the waning feast. But the mystery remained: where were they coming from? None were present near the AC ducts, or even the old sliding windows—two chief candidates from lesser breaches prior.

That was when I noticed a disproportionate number occupying the marble tiles that shadowed the fireplace. We crouched before it and, sure enough, bees were fleeing by the handful through the cracks and crevices in the glass gate that ostensibly sealed off the hearth. The bees, it seemed, seeking refuge from the pre-Winter weather, were funneling into our underused chimney and spilling out into the warm living room. Sympathetic as I was to their plight, if this would be the Thanksgiving we were besieged by bees, it would not happen without a fight.

The rest of the family was now on high alert. We quickly assented that closing the flue would be but a temporary solution. And so, careful to minimize the flow of bees, my father pried open the grate and ignited a log atop the ashes of Duraflames past. As he stoked the blaze, my mother went outside to check the chimney, hands on her hips as she scrutinized the roof. Taking over for her later, I could confirm the sight of small black dots frantically circling high above our two-story Tudor.

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My father knelt attentively in front of the fire all the while, an emergency blanket-like silver rectangle and rag his sword and shield, monitoring the bees’ departure or demise. As a flattened box of Life cereal dribbled ironic sparks, he implored me and my brother to procure further fuel from the garage. We returned with armfuls of flattened cardboard boxes and newspapers, to be distributed within the inferno. My grandmother paced the vicinity with concern, while others sat amused on the furniture, keeping watch and snagging stray bees with tissues.

Within an hour, the bodies piled millimeters high before the waning flame, we deemed the encroachment neutralized. The evening closed without further incident, and we went our separate ways with our bellies full and primal dominance reaffirmed.

Overall, though, it brought me no pleasure to take time out of my day to set bees on fire. Indeed, I do not wish to linger on the image of their passing.

You’re welcome to, though, because it was still kind of awesome.

 

 

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