Thursday, March 19

Housing Crisis

19th March
On Tuesday the weather was looking good for rehousing the carpenter ant colony. One of the prepared tree trunks was set nice and firm by the garden shed, the ants had been taken out of the fridge the day before and left in a cool place to acclimatise. We placed them by the entry hole on the tree trunk with some sugar water nearby, they wandered around a bit and gradually disappeared into the trunk - Hooray.

We were just slapping high fives when the TNT van pulled in to the drive, the driver had got out of the cab and we could see her gesticulating at us.

The driver, Sylvie, knows us quite well by now, it turns out that she lives in a town an hour’s drive from here, next door to the mother of the woman who lives three houses away from me, with this degree of neighbourly proximity we’re practically sisters - Sylvie usually stops for coffee after she’s handed over a box of creatures.

On Tuesday Sylvie didn’t stay for coffee, she was a bit irate, she told us that she’d heard buzzing and realised that her cab was filling with bumble bees, she pulled over, slapped a bit of parcel tape over the tear in our package and continued, a little faster than she should've, to us.

Now all our attention was on the bumble bees, we could feel through the outer wrapping that the inner casing was broken. We had prepared a wooden box to house these bees and were keen to transfer them to this as soon as possible - how to get the bees out of the broken package without them all just flying away?

Bees can’t see red light and won’t fly in the dark, we already had a dark room in one of the stables where we’d been filming the blossom, there was even a work table in there, so we set up a red light and undid the package on the table, the bees all tumbled out, they fell off the table and were crawling around on the floor, someone went to find things to scoop them up with.

At this point we heard The Director yelling something about the carpenter ants being under attack. The Camera Boys stayed to herd the bumble bees and I ran off to the ants, arriving on a scene of devastation, lots of tiny black ants had swarmed over our great big carpenter ants who, by this time, had fallen off the tree trunk and were lying around in the grass clearly in a bad way, The Director was sweeping away the black ants and trying to resuscitate the wounded carpenters. We tried to poke the unwounded ants back in their ant hole but they kept coming back out to look for their comrades.

We’ve set up an ant hospital in a margarine container where we hope the survivors might recover...


  1. What a tragedy! And what a pity that the camera wasn't rolling so at least you'd have got footage of the ant massacre. These carpenters sound like wimps. Maybe you should film the black ones instead?

  2. Oh, that sounds so sad.
    I had bumble bees nesting in my house last year... and they've started tapping on the window this year. I like bees... but I'm not so sure I want to live with them.

  3. wow those tiny black ants are serious ninja killers!

    like Gorilla Bananas said, what a shame you didn't film all the action!

  4. Oh no! I hope the carpenters bounce back!

    Your bee transferral idea was quite brilliant, I must say. If I were in that situation, I'm afraid the whole crew would be stung silly and somewhat beeless.

    I've missed a few episodes of Lulu life, but I really enjoyed your pics of the Lovely House! The house is a whole lot like the monster maison my brother is currently renovating for himself in Marin (near Evian-Les-Bains). I think you're a courageous woman for having stayed there alone during the winter.

  5. The battle of the carpenter ants and bumble bees...yes, it does sound like a movie title! Any human casualities?

  6. The darkroom/redlight strategy was brilliant. Such knowledge. Ant wars very tricky. You might try surrounding the log, holding hands and singing 'Top of the World' together...should be enough to send any non Carpenter fans packing.

  7. You'll have to restage the fight of course - will David A be doing the voice over?

    Do you like mosquitoes? Apart from the fact that bats eat them what possible good can they do/be? I know you'll know.

  8. Gorilla - The camera is never rolling at those moments, the whole problem is that all the ants around here are too small.

    Scarlet - Bees are very lovely but bloody noisy when stuck in the bedroom - have you been tempting them with cake Scarlet?

    TP - ants are formidable creatures - you do have to admire them

    Katrocket - good to see you and nice to see that you've been looking around the house.

    Nothing courageous about staying in the house when the alternative was being in a crowded messy household in the UK.

    Cynthia - The Director's nerves are a bit frayed but no stings or wounds in this battle

    Brother T - That song has started going round and round in my head - and then I chuckle at the idea of black ants running off with their hands over their ears.

    Frenchie - Difficult to say much nice about mosquitos, they are food for lots of things but they drive us as nuts and are a real pain while we're filming on warm days.

    On a job in Tasmania a few years ago, the mozzies were so persistent that I ended up having to scrape them off the cameramen's faces while they were filming

  9. I don't know what it is.. but bees seem to like me. I've also had honey bees in the chimney...

  10. This is hilarious. I have had an encounter with a bee in the car and it is very scary. your friend is a trooper.

  11. If the carpenter ants had been wearing their tool belts (as all good carpenters do) then they would have had the tools to repel those lousy picnic ants.

  12. Sad for the ant situation. I am a bit disappointed the ants didn't put up a better account of themselves.

  13. Scarlet - bees are certainly not what a girl wants in her chimney.

    Alphawoman - I've nearly crashed due to a bee in the car - Sylvie was heroic, forget coffee, I tried to get some brandy down her.

    Bill - They must've left their belts in the fridge.

    Xl - To be honest they were probably still sleepy.

  14. When I was a kid we used to put black ants and red ants together to watch them fight. As a kid,I was cruel.

  15. i am exhausted from the reading already - and filming has not even started! how will i be able to endure the tension with filming?!
    keep your strength up!
    i am going to fortify myself with a g & t....

  16. I hope that you're maintaining a bedside (or spreadside) vigil for your wounded ants?

    I have visions of little ants with bandages on damaged bits. Very sweet.

  17. My goodness, it sounds like War of the Worlds! I can't believe you put the carpenter ants new home in hostile territory!

    Suddenly all I can think about is that tasty ants on a log treat - celery filled with peanut butter with raisens on top.

  18. bb - yes you were cruel - the ants will get their own back though.

    deb - can I come over to yours?

    Mme deF - we are all peering anxiously the the poor little soldiers

    Wow - make me feel worse why don't you?

    mmm that log thing sounds great, I'd try it with garlic cream cheese too.

  19. "Bees can’t see red light" - or that just what they tell the policemen after they've been caught jumping traffic lights.

  20. I just recalled a childhood memory of my aunt and uncle being in quite a bad car accident because a wasp flew in through the car window and stung my aunt who was driving.

    Goodness, your blog has dredged up an ancient memory there

  21. I have ants in my pants.

    Oh Hai XL!

  22. Gadj - bees can't get a driving licences on account of their colour-blindness so they'd be done anyway

    Frenchie - I bet it's almost happened to a lot of us. I'm feeling a bit like the Angel of Death at the moment to be honest.

    MJ - I understood that you've always got something in your pants

  23. Holy ANTymology Batman!

    Gadzooks! Yesterday I was watching a program on the lovely Africanized PSYCHOTIC Bees attacking the fine folks in the southern US.

    The entomologist was describing how people freak out under attack and go blank. He said all that you can do is run like hell!

    My wife's hometown is the honey capital of our Province so I've talked to lots of keepers..they all just love their fuzzy wittle Bees. They are in awe of their discipline and organisation...a little anthropomorphic but that's OK.

    Wow... that must have been quite a frantic scene. I am so impressed that you figured out all the red light spectrum not-flying-in-the-dark stuff! You are like MacGyver!

    Those poor outnumbered Carpenters..maybe they were still too cold to kick ass.

    I read once that the weight of all the insects on the planet is greater than that of all the Humans? There is a whole other universe at play at our feet isn't there?

    *switchin to decaf ;)

  24. Astounding! The last time that I crossed an ant regiment, they came to the re-provisioning ...dans my guard to eat! They yomped between Sugar the cakes and cereals, they had some full the back, and all that without arrange to the paws? That puts on file me the bumblebee!

  25. I thought of you before because our latest Guardian International got popped into our postbox and there is a page and a half article about ants - how amazing they are.
    But I suppose you knew that already, whereas the rest of us just sprinkle that white powder down.

  26. Hi Donn - I've heard that more weight of insects than humans stat and believe it is more intense than that - insects make up 90% of the life on earth.
    ...they all just love their fuzzy wittle Bees. They are in awe of their discipline and organisation...a little anthropomorphic but that's OK.

    Be in awe of their discipline and organisation - every scientist is, and all we know is that we know nothing about the fuzzy wittle things

    Crabtree - you are a true poet, best advice from me is to give the ants their own sandwich so they'll leave yours alone

    Ms Fancy - Ants are terribly fashionable these days. The recent burst of stuff about them is due to a recent book by E O Wilson (big big ant expert and biologist).

    I thought of you today - I got angry about British journalists while reading Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in the Guardian online - I'm putting a link to it on my sidebar NOW

  27. Mr FF is a big fan of BG - the man speaks sense.


Related Posts with Thumbnails