Rob's Blog Archive

Sepetember 29, 2013

The Hornets’ Nest










I start most summers by grilling many of my dinners and lunches.  My house gets hot and cooking outside makes a lot of sense.  Add to that that with a good gas grill, it’s easy and fast. 

Life is good, at least for a while.  Then, without fail, I leave the grill on so it can “self clean,” and forget about it.  Some hours later, I look to find that I have no more propane.  Refilling the canister is cheap, but it’s also a nuisance.  The one issue I have with my Weber is how the canister is mounted.  Trivial changes would have made taking it off to be refilled much easier, but I digress. 

After many years, I finally decided to do things a little differently.  I’d do my overheat/clean cycle before cooking rather than after.  With this, I could turn off the grill just as I pulled the last bit of food, something I’m not likely to forget to do.  It worked.  And so, I started the summer with great grilling expectations. 

The first couple of weeks had me grilling regularly, and hot cleaning the grill before cooking  worked fine.  Unfortunately, a new problem emerged.  I kept getting stung by hornets.  I was pretty sure that somehow I was disturbing a nest, so I just tried to keep from jostling the world so as to minimize the number of stings.  I’m not allergic, so while it is a nasty sting, the soreness goes away in about half an hour.  At one sting per steak, I could live with it.  Eventually, it got to two stings each time I turned on the grill.  With this, I figured I should at least find where the nest was. 

The search lasted about a minute.  The nest was attached the underside of the grill’s left counter.  That counter has an extension that I wasn’t using and this was hanging down and concealing the nest.  I was actually surprised at how long it took before I got stung---often just as I was pulling whatever off.   This meant that I had started the grill, put my food on it, and flipped it one or more times before I was stung.  Still, the hornets were becoming more aggressive, so I gave up grilling until I could get rid of the nest.

I quickly got what I figured to be sound advice regarding removing the nest---get a hose and hit the thing with water.  With this, the nest dissolves.  Moreover, I was told that the hornets can’t figure out the water source and attack, particularly if it’s done from below the bottom of the nest.  In addition to an upward angle, I decided to add to the hornets’ difficulties by doing this on a cold morning, presumably when the bugs were less active. 

Getting everything I needed to de-nest my barbecue took place in mid-July, actually right around the time I’d normally forget to turn the grill off and run out of gas. Unfortunately, the same lack of motivation I had regarding getting my grill back in previous years also affected my drive to remove the nest.  This coupled with it being cold only first thing in the morning, a time I don’t see except when highly motivated, and the hornets never felt the wrath of my garden hose. 

While, technically, I start training my dogs during late summer, in my mind this is the beginning of fall.  And with the fall comes changing foliage, cool weather, and the hope of the first snowstorms.  This year, I also expected that one way or another, the hornets would be gone and I’d be able to grill my food once again.  There are plenty of hornets’ nests around, and I know they are totally inactive over the winter.  I’d get my grill back.  I just wasn’t sure when that would happen.

The weather switched from summer to fall with about the same speed as somebody turning out the lights.  Given that cold rainstorms making their way through Seeley caused this, the turning out the lights metaphor was particularly accurate. 

And with this, I started observing the nest----definitely from a safe distance---to see if it was active.  The first couple of times, there were definitely hornets going in and out, though it did seem that there were quite a few less than there had been mid-summer.  Finally, it looked like they might be gone.  I had watched for several minutes and hadn’t seen a thing move.   I poked the nest with an eight foot stick.  When the nest was active, I’m sure that a swarm of hornets would have burst out and come looking for me.  This time, nothing happened.  I got my grill back. 

Color varies a lot from year to year as does the timing.  Last year, the aspen turned very early.  This year, they’re coming into color now.  I sometimes think this is late, but looking at dated photos, I realize this is the norm. 

I still have to go through my least favorite season, the last weeks of autumn right before we have a real snowpack, but for about a month, fall will be about moderate days, some rain, and the color.  Runs will be pleasant, though sometimes a little wet.  And the hornets are gone.

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