Ramble On

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Battle of the Species - The Carpenter Bees Return, continued

It’s a small thing, a carpenter bee carcass, but when I found this one on Sunday morning, I was swept up in a big feeling, one of gratification, satisfaction, dignity, one of…victory.

Immediately on our return from Home Depot and unpacking, we got straight to work on the bee battle. After setting up the ladder, I donned the mask and gloves to begin treating the new pine facing boards with Chris observing. After some experiments on how to apply the chemicals in the wind so they would not blow back in either of our faces, we really made traction on progress.

At this point I would like to repeat the concentration ratio of the chemical treatment we were using. When I write 6 milliliters, it may not be clear how much that really is. In the bottom of a one gallon jug, this amounts to three drops the size of your thumb nail – and the one gallon solution is adequate for 1,000 square feet of application!

After some misguided spraying on my part, Chris decided he wanted to take over for me – while I went inside to wash off the stray drops that had landed in my hair (despite the hat) and on my face (despite the mask). Here are some action photos of him applying the insecticide to the facing boards, both from underneath and then from the roof, which proved an easier vantage point for a lot of the work. The new ladder worked well.
We mixed a second gallon for application to the outbuildings. I was less concerned about these, as there is past damage to them, and I hadn’t just months ago paid for new facing boards to be installed on them. In fact, I’d prefer that the bees go there.
After we finished, we sat down to an excellent dinner of rib-eyes, kale, and roast potatoes, all cooked on the grill. A victory cigar for me, a fire in the firepit, and a nice Old Vine Zin completed the celebration. We speculated on the effectiveness of the treatment, and to the potential damage the chemicals might have done to us, but went to bed satisfied with a job well done.
Still, as that article from Texas A&M warned, the diligence was just beginning. The treatment will keep the bees from starting new holes, but unless we had sprayed them directly, bees in existing holes, or which happened to be away hunting pollen while we were applying the chemicals, would be unaffected.
The next steps are to identify still active holes (hot spots!) and pursue those bees to the death. And I have a secret weapon that I am going to install next week. More on that in a future post.
It was gratifying to find a bee carcass already the next morning, and upon our return last weekend, another two carcasses lying there. I added two to the tally with well-aimed spraying (one was boring a nest in Jesse’s sawhorses – at least it wasn’t targeting the house!) and a perfect flyswatter swing. I gave a gallon of the solution to Terry to put on their house, and to my Page County neighbors who might want to try this stuff, you’re welcome to a gallon or two as well.
I just need to reserve two gallons for the fall application.

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