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Posted: May 25, 2013 9:03 p.m.

McCoy: Carpenter bees don't seek permits

Have you ever encountered incompetent handymen? Maybe you wanted a few damaged roof shingles repaired, and instead, your hired hands installed new toilet seats in your bathrooms because they were too afraid to scale the roof.

I suppose that’s OK if you needed new toilet seats, but your roof is still leaking, and who wants to sit on the can and get rained on? Not me.

We all have stories of incompetents masquerading as professionals. Plumbers who can’t plumb, gutter guys with no guts, sheet-metal workers three sheets to the wind: You have to be careful when you hire so-called professionals.

But what happens when you encounter some of nature’s incompetent handymen? I found that out this weekend, when a swarm of carpenter bees decided to work on my house. Talk about false advertising.

These alleged carpenters have some nerve swarming around doing freelance work. Real carpenters belong to unions, have significant training, and know how to use specialty tools. These bees didn’t have any credentials. They buzzed in and started drilling, without even showing me a work order. I never saw as much as a blueprint or an estimate, and I was never offered references.

While the bees were working, I went and talked to a neighbor who had experience with carpenter bee carpentry. The only thing he could say in their favor was that the holes they drilled were exactly 5/16ths of an inch in diameter.

Carpenter bees may be precise, but that doesn’t excuse them from providing proof of insurance and a one-year warranty on their work.

Faced with an unwanted swarm of incompetent handymen, I raced to the hardware store, to learn how to kill them. That’s a rather brutal approach, but what choice do you have in the matter? Carpenter bees use the holes they drill to move into your house and raise a family. If a regular carpenter tried to do that, you’d kick his rump out, even if he offered you a wicked-good jar of sourwood honey as a bribe.

To get rid of carpenter bees, you have to spray them, and plug their holes, and trick them into trapping themselves in a Mason jar. That last part is pretty easy, I’m told. Carpenter bees aren’t all that smart, even if they can drill holes with a precision that would make Black and Decker envious.

It’s no wonder none of the trade and labor unions wanted them as members.

 

 

David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington and can be reached at davmccoy@bellsouth.net.

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