I’ll try to give a chronological account. It will probably sound like an utterly childish affair to most, but I have to take it out of my system (as Americans would put it). The incident made me realise a lot about humanity and about the frailty of my own moral convictions.
I was working at home and it suddenly went dark. At the same time, a loud buzz established itself outside the French windows. I looked outside and saw many wasps flying about. Gizmo soon came in from the balcony with what I can honestly describe as a perplexed and scared expression on his face. Fearing that wasps could get into the flat, I quickly closed all windows. The buzz abated and I went back to work but minutes later, the buzz still being heard, I narrowly opened the French windows again and looked up. I saw a football sized mass lodged in the corner between the balcony wall and the eave. I panicked. I realised I had no idea how long this had been there: it looked like a nest surrounded by wasps.
I thought that the last thing we needed (thinking of the unborn one, Jod and Gizmo — in that order) was a wasps’ nest. I repeatedly squirted some water on the mass but only a handful of wasps left or fell on the balcony. I came back into the flat and googled “how to get rid of wasps nests”. The information was not particularly useful. One page advised spraying. I tried spraying the black mass with insecticide for crawling insects but most of it ended up on my face. I did some more googling. Maybe they were bees. A beekeeper could easily have them removed. But I don’t know of any beekeepers. It suddenly struck me I know no-one in the Outpost (not quite accurate but it overcame me as a feeling).
I got dressed in panic and went out to buy insecticide for flying insects. I quickly came back with two cans. I put on my sports jacked, fastened the hood and wrapped a piece of clean cloth around my mouth. I got out in the balcony and on the ladder, I sprayed the mass of insects from the two cans simultaneously, on and off in order to avoid any of them attacking me. The poor things were soon dropping dead and I went back in. When I came back out in the balcony, there was no nest to be seen. I realised I didn’t know whether these were bees or wasps. I did some more googling. They were probably bees, it turned out. They were probably resting on their way to establish a new hive. They were most likely swarming around a new queen. They would probably be on their way in anything between two and seven days. But I killed them. All. I tried to justify myself: what if they nested there and became defensive of the new hive and aggressive? What if they stang one of us? Not me, that is.
By the time the above occurred to me, dozens of them were lying dead on the balcony and on the outdoor cupboard. I felt guilty I so mindlessly and recklessly killed the poor things. Even more googling revealed that they wouldn’t have been able to establish a nest so quickly, in any case. It was then that my mother called. After the usual (you know: mother talk), I talked to her about the incident. She thought they were probably bees on their way to establish a new hive, bees would not just build a hive in a corner on an outside wall (fit for swallows’ nests), a beekeeper would have done the trick in any case.
I hanged up and felt immensely guilty now. Here was the comedy of human violence, of war, even: convinced in panic that my own are in danger, I just kill the poor defenseless things. No qualms, no waiting, and plenty of excuses. I, the pacifist and who abhors all violence, carried out the deed. This time I was overcome with crushing guilt, pure remorse (neither feeling am I familiar with). I just killed a swarm of bees passing by, it emerges. Because I was scared. A very deep sadness descended upon me, like the topical ash. Not only am I not any better than anyone who kills, I also quickly started inventing excuses for it.