Yesterday afternoon Agnes went into the bathroom to get a thermometer to measure Eleanor's temperature. She came out and closed the door. She said, "There's a bee in there. Can you kill it?"

We tend not to kill bugs if we can help it. For instance, we usually shoo a fly out of our kitchen door—often it just ends up being easier. However, I couldn't think of how we would shoo a bee out of our bathroom, through our family room, through the dining room, into the kitchen and out the kitchen door without getting it so angry that I would be stung. So, I went to get our fly-swatter.

I went into the bathroom and found two bees in there. While I stood there, a third bee flew down out of the bathroom vent. I came back out and asked Agnes, "Are you sure I should try swatting these bees? Will a single, good swat kill a bee?"

You can see at least three of the bees on the window, and maybe part of the fourth.

bees on the window

I was starting to get concerned that I wouldn't be able to swat a bee and kill it in one hit AND avoid riling up the remaining bees. When I peeked back into the bathroom, there were five bees in there. We clearly had a bigger problem on our hands. I closed the door again, and went outside to the side of the house near the bathroom. I saw a couple of bees flying around the eaves of our house, sometimes going in and out of a set of holes that we have there. Apparently, they were flying up through those holes into our attic, and then down into our bathroom through the vent.

Those holes in the eaves have been a big problem for us. For the last two summers, we've had some sparrows nest in our roof through those same holes. We had some trouble where they would rip up our ceiling insulation to make their nest. A little later, baby sparrows would hatch, and one would eventually fall to its death out of our roof. Over the course of the past two summers, we've had about six dead baby sparrows. My friend Leslie started saying that our house must be built on the Hellmouth. Anyway, we put some wire mesh over most of these holes, but the ones just outside of our bathroom never got patched, and that's where the bees were going.

Anyway, I decided to see if I could open the window and remove the screen, and then let the bees fly out on their own. I figured that they would most likely prefer to be outside than trapped in our bathroom. I carefully went to the window and opened it, while keeping a close eye on the bees. A couple flew down to the screen. I started to open the screen and found that the window frame had become so warped that I couldn't remove the screen. It got stuck. I closed the window again, trapping a couple of the bees between the window and the screen, and then left the bathroom again.

bees on the screen

I called a bee removal service (look up "bees" in the yellow pages), and it took me four tries before I found someone who would pick up the telephone. By this time, it was 5:30pm, and I was starting to worry that no one would be able to come out. The people who advertised 24 hour service didn't pick up their telephones. This was compounded by the fact that I was trying to find someone the evening before Easter.

The guy I reached said that he didn't have anyone who could come out to help us, but that he could send someone in the morning. He suggested that we turn off the lights in the bathroom, close the door, and put a towel at the base of the door. Bees always fly towards the light and once it got dark out, those bees would find their way under the door to the rest of the house if we didn't somehow block the light. With only sunlight coming in through the window, the bees would stay over near the window, and eventually die in a couple of hours. He said that I shouldn't try swatting the bees, or they would come after me. If I wanted to kill them, he suggested Raid. One spray and they would drop dead. He did say, though, that we should still have someone come out in the morning to spray to prevent more bees from coming back the next day. They would also check to see if this was an isolated incident, or if we had a hive in our roof. If we had a hive, they would need to go up there and clean it out to prevent bees from returning. In general, he said, if you've seen bees around for more than a week or two, it's likely you have a hive.

We made the appointment, and I went into the bathroom one more time. I grabbed our toothbrushes and everything we use to give the girls their baths. I closed the door, put a towel at the base of the door, and we decided we weren't going back in until morning.

This morning, a guy showed up at 8:00 to spray for bees. I showed him the bathroom and he picked up the dead bees with some tissue to toss into the toilet. He looked around and said that he was certain there wasn't a hive. We would have seen a lot more bees, and we would have seen dark smudges of pollen around the holes in our eaves. He sprayed each of the holes in the eaves around the whole house with some chemical that they guarantee will keep bees away for three months. He wished us a Happy Easter and went on his way.

bee guy