A year and a half, maybe more ago, I bought a lovely, beautiful little Mason bee house from Gardener’s Supply. Warning, if you click that link, you may leave that site with a smile on your face, but less $ in your pocket. Delightful garden goodies that you never knew existed or that you needed until you saw them, but hoo boy, are they cool when you get them! I digress, though. This Mason bee house has sat vacant for 1.5, possibly 2.5 years. i don’t remember when I bought it, but no one ever moved in. A few days ago, I noticed that the top had nearly pulled off and mentally noted that I’d need to fix it or take it down.
Some back story before we get to today’s title:
Last week, I harvested some unripe pears from our 3-way Asian pear tree, so that the pears left in each cluster could grow larger. I juiced them with my cucumbers, greens and lemonbalm, because they were super tart and non-edible. While I harvested the pears, some factory workers were outside on their break and may have noticed me picking something from a tree. I can’t say for sure it was them, because I also was on a garden tour on Wednesday evening, and I specifically pointed out the pears on the tree that night. I didn’t know everyone on the tour, but I would hope “it” wasn’t one of them. In any case, on Friday, David, a friend of ours, and I looked into the house I’ll be renting nextdoor as office and classroom space and a guesthouse. Good thing I was so excited about the gorgeous, custom paint and hardwood floors, because when we walked out to show our friend the garden as he had requested, I noticed that someone had stolen all my pears. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
Now, the Fire Faery is called the Fire Faery for a reason, because she has a wee bit of a fiery temper, and let’s just say, the biggest garden faery at Faery Hof was rather hot to trot. I mean, it’s one thing to steal produce hanging over the sidewalk, but the pear tree is halfway into our yard. The pears weren’t even ripe, and whoever took them didn’t even have the courtesy to leave a single one behind. That’s rude on so many levels I don’t even know where to start, but I did receive the answer to that week’s earlier question of whether or not I needed to have so many protections on our property. Was I just being a snob? Would people really steal produce from our yard if I relaxed some of the warding and Runic protections around it? Was I paranoid and judgmental of the people in our area? Blah, blah … bottom line, I relaxed the usual quadruple rings of magical protection I keep around our home and property. And I immediately paid the price in pears.
Now, mind you, it was not a particularly expensive price, and it did convince me not to plant an apricot tree right up front, because if someone can spot half ripe pears from 30 yards away, then surely bright orange apricots right by the sidewalk would be way too tempting. And if that someone feels OK stealing 100% of my pears, then I don’t really want to alert them or their ilk to all the fruity goodness in the rest of the yard. I wished whoever they were a sore tummy and the mental note that fruit from our yard tastes really, really bad, so don’t harvest here again, but then I began to ponder the ethics of protection, magical and otherwise. I’m very generous with my produce and sharing of empowering skills, but don’t go lurking around my yard and stealing all of something. Faery Rule #2: No Rudeness!
After talking with some others, I decided to re-initiate the excellent yard protection I got going in Madison when we had a very nosy, would-be helpful neighbor who would let himself into our backyard and do things like mow down our elderberry saplings. He’d also drag out our garbage and recycling cans near my tiny garden there and run over or uproot my plants in the process. He did not respond to “No thanks” and “Please don’t come onto our property.” He meant well, but he also destroyed everything he touched, so I called in some help from beyond. The next day, a wasp nest appeared, right by my garden. According to the nosy neighbor, the wasps stung him the next time he tried to move our garbage and recycling cans.
He’d stand in our driveway marveling that I could work in the garden with wasps buzzing all around me when he couldn’t even set foot near the garden without getting stung. “Well,” I smiled, “it’s my garden, isn’t it? I asked you not to come up here, because the cans damage the plants unless you’re very careful.” He still didn’t get it and kept marveling, so I said, “When I walk out the side door, I just send them a message, ‘I mean you no harm, I mean you no harm,’ and they part for me.” He watched as I walked through a haze of wasps, unstung. He tried to move the cans once more and got stung again, so then he took to just apologizing from the sidewalk — I had written Runes on the driveway, and he never managed to get up that far again — that he gave up on moving our cans. Did he learn his lesson? Not really, but at least he stopped destroying my plants. I gave him lots of free tomatoes and cucumbers to make up for it.
Back to the pears here. After pondering the ethics of tagging stolen fruit with a different taste, texture and stomachache, or posting a sign that not all plants here are edible, that some are poisonous lookalikes (actually true, as I have them in here for other purposes than just food), I opted for the old wasp defense. I put out a call, requesting they inhabit our property, not the blue house, since there will be guests staying there. I told them what I wanted them to guard, and I asked them to come soon, with instructions to give a warning to anyone stealing anything from the garden. If the person ignores all the magical force fields around our yard and does not get the first message from the wasps, then they have instructions to sting with impunity until the person leaves and never returns. I don’t like the feeling of violation and defense, especially when I do as much as I do to try to uplift this neighborhood and empower people to take care of themselves.
Today, I went outside to water and do little yard chores, including take down and repair the Mason bee house, but lo and behold, it now has residents. Many of them! A whole force is moving in to every vacant “apartment,” and they’re not just Mason bees. Some of these dudes have serious stingers. Some are yellow jackets. I hastily used string to keep the house from falling apart, until one of the little mercenaries told me that was quite enough and to back off. Message received. These little thugs like things a bit run down. They’ve let me know they’ve reported for duty and will enjoy the new digs, all the food and pollen in the garden, the undesirable insects and intruders alike. Apparently, the rough and tumble appearance of the Mason bee house allows them to blend into the surroundings– nothing too fancy for this neighborhood. Ahem.
And that’s how I became the Slumlord Beekeeper: