Dad told me that we’d wait until dark to take care of it. When night fell, we went outside with a flashlight and Dad grabbed a can of gasoline. I aimed the flashlight and stood pretty far back while he lifted a corner of the rug just a little bit. He dumped the gas onto the nest, and we ran away before they could get us. I’m not sure they ever woke up.
In the morning, I went to see the bees. I threw a rock at their home from far away, and when nothing happened, I got closer, and pulled the rug up. Several combs were in there, grey and flaking and wet. The bodies of dead insects numbered in the dozens. I felt bad for them. But they would have stung us anyway, and we’d done what had to be done. I found a glass jar in the house, and put one of the nests inside, to keep a relic of this massacre. There were little white capsules within the comb I kept.
A few mornings later, there were living, moving yellow jackets in my jar. I got freaked out, and covered it with a lid. But they were so small, and there weren’t many, and moved like zombies or the newly born. The only place they could have come from was the comb—they were babies! I put some dandelions and leaves in the jar so they wouldn’t go hungry. But only a few days later, the newborns were dead. I asked Dad what had happened, and he told me that the gas had probably killed them. That was its purpose, after all.
I got rid of the comb. It made me sad to see the babies born and then die. And I didn’t want my home to smell the way theirs did.