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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Six: Case File No. 21-281

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Where We Left Off:

A fox has been lurking around these parts, but she doesn’t come every night.

Raging Bees:


While other people and working cats were appreciating their Labor Day Weekend which usually means a Monday holiday; but for Gus, he worked with an injury. The Sunday before Labor Day Gus and I were conducting a routine patrol and things seemed perfectly normal.

That weekend, Gus was fired up and energized. Some days he is a polite lad who observes the beasts and critters. On other days when he has abundant energy, it is more likely that he will chase at least one target. That sunny morning, the chipmunks and songbirds were enjoying their breakfast feast of peanuts.

Gus in grass

These local chipmunks were like the birds in that they had all kinds of knowledge about the other living beings. The chipmunks and migrating birds were limited by the seasons. During this case, it was an active time period for both types of animals. One of the key factors in this case is the location.

At this point in September, it was difficult to discern if Munka had had her babies and was nursing them or if she was still pregnant. All we could tell was that she had a plump figure and protruding nipples. The same characteristics were noted when he later observed Wanda Maximunk by the boulder. It was a time for second broods of chipmunk babies!

chipmunk eating peanuts on rocks

I’ve been putting out the snacks on a flat red brick at one corner of the rock wall. The near side of the wall is next to some large flowering bushes. One is shades of pinks and burgundy and grows next to the stone path leading from the parking area to the back door. The rest of the wall on that side is next to a line of hydrangea hybrids called limelights—you can see them in the background in tons of my chipmunk photos. The limelight bushes get pruned down to two feet tall and each summer grow to around seven or eight feet high. The triangle tops are large clusters of flowers that change colors: white, lime green, and pink. The bees LOVE these limelights.

While I feed the critters and stand close by the sundial in front of the red brick on the wall, the bees focus on their business of the flowers. They’ve never bothered me. Gus is able to lie down at that corner in the grass with a perfect view of the critters up on the wall and the ones gathering around the maple tree to grab the snacks off the ground. The bees naturally wanted to build a home near this prime location. It’s common for ground-dwelling bees to make their burrow close to Gnome Grove. These bees decided to burrow between two bushes that look like those green Snoballs cakes.

hostess snoballs cakes

The problem with the location of the Bee Hole between the Snoballs is that anyone, including Gus, who walk out the back door and go up the stone path will likely have to maneuver next to the bees in order to reach the driveway. The bees get agitated when anyone goes to close to their space. Why couldn’t they have burrowed somewhere we don’t walk? If I had to describe this location in human terms, it’s like having a townhouse at Port Imperial in Weehawken, New Jersey where all you have to do is cross the Hudson River and be in mid-town Manhattan. Port Imperial is a small development where ferries land. The buildings are residential and commercial. Everything appears high-end (but who knows if it truly is or was constructed with crap). It’s a huge hub of activity. That’s kind of spot these bees chose to make their Bee Hole.

cartoon bee sting

These bees weren’t the only stingers of concern. The Grumpy Old Man told me “things” were building a nest in my faux antique bird cage that’s purely decorative on the balcony. I have fake birds, butterflies, and flowers decorating the cage with a bundle of fairy lights inside. It’s normally an attractive feature giving the porch a romantic ambience. The Grumpy Old Man said it looked like wasps, but it could have been just about any of the angry stingers: hornets, yellowjackets, bees, Murder Hornets!

I still can’t tell the difference in most of these stingers. Carpenter bees are easily identified because they are huge, rotund, and act like sentries. They also destroy houses making perfectly round holes in wood so they can live within the walls. They’re scary.

Fluffy bumble bees bother me less no that I’ve noticed how different they are also. Their bodies aren’t long and they really do look fluffy. I’m not fond of their other insect body parts which look scary to me.

I thought honey bees were great. They’re considered non-aggressive. Like all the others, they are pollinators and crucial to the planet. If anything happens to the bees, humans will die. It’s simple. I mean, we’re also inventive and I believe scientists are working on robot bees to pollinate. Okay nice, but they should be spending time stopping the extinction of the creatures that help us survive.

In 2015, President Obama made a remarkable call to action to research pollinators. Teddy Roosevelt would have been proud. I can’t think of other past presidents who gave a shit while in office. You can read the PDF of the pollinator plan in the White House archives. What I haven’t found are the findings of that research and what actions were actually taken. A call to action does not equate taking action. I did eventually find a breakdown by year of species added to the endangered lists. Flowering plants had an unfortunately big year in 2016 with many being added to the endangered list. That year also saw seven yellow-faced bee types (genus Hylaeus) added to the list particularly in Hawaii. The Rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) was added in 2017.

According to “Bumblebees usually make underground colonies while honey bees are usually live on trees.”

That’s not what I observed. The bees at the Bee Hole did not look like fluffy bumble bees at all. They looked like the smaller honey bee variety. These are the ones that are supposed to be docile. Well, I still don’t know for sure what kind of stingers these are. All I know is that Gus chased a chipmunk who ran passed the Bee Hole and one of those bees got angry and stung my boy!

That is not acceptable!

Gus stung by bee

Gus ran in confusion with at least one eye closed. The injury was close to his right eye over his cheekbone. His route made a kind of a right-angled U shape before he stopped so I could catch up. I’m grateful he was close to the house. He didn’t run near the road. In the 1-2 seconds of his sprint, that’s what my brain worried about.

Gus stung by bee

As soon as Gus got through the door, he hunkered down under a table. Until then I wasn’t even sure what happened. His eye was watering. His face quickly swelled. One thing I noticed was that he wasn’t crying out. Surely he was in some pain. We snuggled that day as the swelling went down. I didn’t do anything to treat him. He was taking good care of himself. My mother used to say that cat spit was healing for their wounds. He was fine cleaning his eye and rubbing the spot. I did remove some of the running eye snot but otherwise, I was there was snuggles and to tell him how brave he is.

By the next day, Gus was doing fine. There was only a little swelling. The spot where the sting struck stayed visible for weeks as a small grey pimple mark.

We know the who, where, and when. Let’s look into why this happened. Meanwhile, Gus received a lot of thoughtful messages online from our friends, readers, and fellow adventure cats.

Witness Interview:

Richie “The Boot” Cyano of the Blue Jay Gang had the answers we needed. He wouldn’t give them up without an extra payment of peanuts.

blue jay

“Gus has attacked Benny Squint and Pietro Maximunk repeatedly,” The Boot said. “The chipmunks are being more cautious than usual. Can’t blame them.”

“No. I understand it. But I have noticed that Gus has been leaving the ladies alone. They’re nursing mothers. He deserves some credit for that,” I said—not that The Boot cared. It wasn’t his fight.

“I have it on good authority that it was Munka Kelly that Gus was chasing,” the bird said while eyeing the peanut can and my closed fist with his payoff in it.

“What? No. I think Gus knows to leave her alone. Really!”

chipmunk munka kelly

“Just tellin’ ya. As Munka was running and passed the bees, she said she needed help. The bees did what bees do. The helped out a friendly neighborhood resident and stung your boy.” The bird bounced a lot like a parrot dancing. He was ready for the peanuts. He did give me the information I wanted after all. I tossed the peanuts under the maple tree and watched him dive down for the first one.

In a way, it was a hit, but I understood why. Munka Kelly is precious and I’d hate for anything to happen to her. I haven’t been this attached to a chipmunk since Sgt. Burrows and Cheeks Moretti. And, Gus was responsible for the manslaughter of Sgt. Burrows. At least Cheeks got to retire and move on. The bee was being a good Samaritan.

Gus and Ollie

As far as the upstairs stingers, The Grumpy Old Man “took care of them” and I didn’t ask the details. That nest was in there with such strong attachment, he couldn’t get every bit out and neither could I. It made me think about the one that was mainly abandoned but fully constructed on the side of the building. I was told that it took muscle to scrape off the thick foundation (the top) attached to the eaves. That part of the hive is a different consistency than the delicate paper holes.

Case Findings:

Gus was stung because he was chasing Munka Kelly. As she ran across the cement next to the Bee Hole, she asked the bees for help. One was able to hit Gus with a sting under his right eye. Gus healed quickly and began avoiding that area. He started taking alternate routes.

*Update: now that a couple weeks have passed and The Grumpy Old Man accidentally stomped on the Bee Hole, the bees left. Gus has been walking by the area again.

Case Status: Closed

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