Whodunnit?

By Ruby Compton

Long about the middle of July, it was pointed out to me to “Watch that hole” in the yard. As I stared intently, I noticed yellow jackets actively coming in and out of a quarter-sized opening in the ground. It certainly had potential to be a bad bad place for any human or animal to stumble upon. Luckily, it was the middle of summer and nobody had much time to spend in my backyard. I decided to wait until fall to do something about the nest.

Well on this particular Hallow’s Eve, I found myself standing on my porch thinking, “Hm, I wonder whatever happened to that bees’ nest in the ground.” I peeked through the screen and came across this scene.

Now to many of you, this may just look like a large hole in the ground. But for the trained eye, this is what I saw.

There had been a murder! Or was it arson? What could have possibly withstood the painful sting of the yellow jacket to destroy this nest? It was time for evidence collection.

I knew it couldn’t have possibly been Bobby, our resident maintenance man, because I never reported the nest and only a few weeks ago, the nest was in tact, underground. I remember because my nephew was at my house and I warned him to be cautious if he ventured to the backyard and showed him the small, quarter-sized hole that was the gateway to a potentially traumatic experience.

Upon venturing closer, I inspected the crime scene.

Honeycomb had been strewn throughout the yard. A sweet nectar was solidified on many of the pieces. What could it have been? I had seen a sight like this before. To me it was the unmistakable sign of a hungry, tough animal tearing apart the nest in search of sweet delicious food. Could it have been a bear? Perhaps a raccoon? Or maybe a skunk?

As I stared at the remains, I remembered another day this fall when I discovered yet another ground nest just across the street. Luckily, this was another nest I had discovered simply through observation. I heard the undeniable hum of bees on afternoon while doing some yard work and stopped to see if I could find the source. I followed the flight of a couple of bees to a hole in the side of the hill just below the cemetery across the street.

I raced around the corner of the house and saw this sight.

Whatever it was had come back for seconds. As I searched close to this nest, a lone ranger buzzed out of the hole and circled around me a couple of times. I backed off and let him explore the entrance to the nest. He seemed almost as shocked as I was. This attack was recent.

I peered into the hole to find a wide tunnel that curved around and wound back into the hill side. The tunnel’s diameter was that of my arm and was at least two feet deep. I thought that perhaps this nest was too far underground to be affected. Then I looked around my feet.
More honeycomb.

Alas, it seems this was a serial attack. The hungry animal left no tracks, no fur, and no scat. So, what do you think? Whodunnit?