Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Once upon a time...

I know that there will be lots of new and interesting stuff to post when Spring shows up and I get back outside to work in the gardens. But right now we're having another 'rain event' in NE Ohio and it might be a good time to curl up with a nice hot beverage and enjoy a tale from LAST year's garden adventures - before I was blogging. Everybody comfy? Okay, let's go.

Once upon a time there was a gardener who, having decided to turn her place into a pollinator sanctuary, just couldn't get enough of things buzzing and humming around the place. "Welcome, bees!" she sang. "Welcome butterflies and moths. Welcome hover flie
s and humming birds. Welcome. Welcome." (Oh, puh-leeeze! Act your age for gosh sakes! ) But I, uh, she didn't and eventually the whole insect community got wind of this new venture and before you know it -- surprise!

In a previous tale I've related how this gardener mows her own grass/meadow. By doing so, every inch of the lawn gets inspected on a regular basis and when something new shows up, well, she's all over it (sometimes literally). In the very back of the yard she has to step carefully due to many chipmunk holes. (They are a hazard and wicked nasty to fragile ankles!) Filling them is futile, but sometimes gives a fleeting satisfaction. (Take that, and that, and *thump thump* that...) Anywho, one day she saw a cute little bee fly into one of those chipmunk holes. And look, another! Oh, she thought. This must be a digger bee or some other native bee that uses rodent holes. I've read about them! Yay! she thought again. Her gardens will be a bee sanctuary in no time.

Let us pause our story here, dear readers, to remind ourselves that when our gardener mow
s her lawn/meadow, she does not wear her reading/close-work glasses. Now, let's continue.

She just couldn't wait to investigate these solitary and docile native bees. She ran got the camera. Before snapping pics, she knelt down and gently laid her ear against the soil, hoping to hear the happy hum beneath, but no. Ah well. Pics were taken and filed away for her bee collection. While walking away, she spied yet another chipmunk hole about 20' feet away with the same kind of bees entering and leaving. She was blessed indeed.

That very night (and readers, these are true facts, not embellished for literary effect), she was awakened by the odd infant-like crying that is the voice of a red fox. Not just a bee sanctuary, she thought excitedly, but a wildlife refuge! She could hardly go back to sleep.

The next day she wandered back toward the chipmunk holes and (oh her poor heart!) found nothing but carnage and devastation everywhere! Oh, the bee-manity!

*sob* Luckily she had her camera and started snapping flash pics left and right. BOTH nests had been dug into and what she naively thought was honeycomb strewn about.
*snap* *snap* *ouch* *OUCH* HEY! HEY! YOW!

Let me tell you, my friends, even with her bad ankle that gal hopped/ran like someone had yelled "free money!" Back safe inside her impenetrable fortress of solicitude, she grabbed her glasses and took a closer look at her digital pics. Hmmm. Then did a little web search. More hmmm. In retrospect, our clueless gardener got off pretty lightly with only a few stings from the ENRAGED YELLOW JACKETS that were LUSTING FOR VENGEANCE that their two underground football-sized nests had been dug up and their lovely plump and juicy larvae had been eaten by foxes!!

Later that same day, our calamine-dappled gardener wondered what to do with those two dangerous half-exposed half-eaten yellow jacket nests? Worriedly she researched about boiling water, cool nights, darkness (they hate bright lights like - flash cameras), etc. But there was little need to worry. The very next night the laughing foxes came back, dug up the rest of the nests and ate everything, even the nest material.

All our gardener had to do was fill in the holes, walk away -- and live happily ever after.


  1. Wonderful post... thank you for sharing your story. Great way to wrap up the day. Warm Wishes from my very wet garden.

  2. What an interesting story. I'm glad you didn't get stung worse! I had no idea that foxes would eat a nest like that!
    Hope the rain isn't too bad.

  3. Thanks for the warm (and dry!) wishes. This time most of the rain passed to the north. And, yes, I do a lot more research these days because of that episode! They say angels watch over fools... ;-)

  4. floodthelast3/11/2009 9:49 PM

    Wow, I'm glad you are ok and that you have foxes.

  5. Flood - And what a delight it is to have the foxes! So glad you dropped by to check out the blog. Be welcomed! :-D

  6. "enraged yellowjackets lusting for vengeance" - ha ha ha!

    Like Catherine, I didn't know foxes would do this!

    We have a terrible time with yellowjackets in Mississippi. They'll live in a hole in the flowerbed you don't even see until your hands and face are inches away! I don't like to use poisons in the garden, but I don't hesitate to use that wasp/hornet spray!

  7. Hi Ginger! Thanks for visiting. Honestly, if it hadn't been for the foxes I might still have thought they were bees. Guess the foxes knew I was clueless and needed an education! (And they needed a snack.) Everybody won. ;-D

  8. I didn't know that foxes would eat yellow jackets! I loved your very entertaining story, although I'm sorry you got stung. I'm allergic to bee stings, so I imagine a yellow jacket sting or two might have landed me in the ER. I'm not about to test the theory!

  9. Oh Kylee, that's too bad about the allergy. While bees are docile (except for those African ones), yellow jackets and hornets, if disturbed can be an issue. Be safe in your gardens!


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