I wasn’t there, but my husband was watering the plants in the backyard. He heard a funny noise and thought something was wrong with the hose. He looked around and saw a swarm of bees.
Hundreds of bees had come to our backyard.
Apparently, this is something that happens. Bees will get a new queen, and each hive can only have one queen. A contingent of bees will break of and look for a new home.
It is officially called a swarm. The bees were swarming.
We didn’t want to get stung. And we didn’t want the dog to get stung. The dog wanted to investigate and see what all this activity was about. We knew what the activity was about, so we restrained the dog and didn’t let her bother the bees.
When bees go looking for a new home, they send out scouts to find a spot. The scouts come back and perform a dance describing their choice of a new home. The more excited the dance the more excited the scout is about the new spot.
These bees are so organized, and they all know what they are doing. Some kind of instinct, a program kicks in and they begin to perform new tasks.
These bees have to only know the hive they are from. They were larvae there, and they did their bee work their whole lives.
Then, one day, something happens. A trigger is pulled and everything changes.
Even though they haven’t done it before, even if inside the bee is freaking out, they still know exactly what to do.
I watched these bees gather in a two foot long pile on a branch of my Nandina bush. I’d never seen bees do that before. Some single bees broke off to fly on an errand, so the pile was wriggling a little bit. The bees clung together in this new environment.
It was strange and eerie. They did not sting me, but I still had small phantom itches and pricks on my skin as I watched them.
All of the bees had a role to play. How did they know?
It made me think of intuition, and striking out into the unknown. Those bees didn’t know what they were doing, they didn’t know what was going to happen for sure.
Maybe some of them believed the enthusiastic scout bee, maybe they were convinced by her dance showing how great the new spot would be.
Maybe some of them didn’t buy it at all.
Still, when the time came they flew away. And when they flew, they protected the queen.
At night, when it was cold, that long swarm shortened up. They huddled much more tightly, because they were out in the open air at night. It was cold, and they wanted to protect the queen and be warm.
I went and looked at them in the early morning. They were very very still, none of the single bees flying away.
The bees were sleeping.
It’s not easy to move to a new place. How different are bees and people? Someone may come up with a story about how great a new place is, and then some people will break off and go to live there.
Nobody knows really what it will be like once you get there.
The bees stayed on our bush for a little less than a day. I wanted them to live, but not in our bush. Maybe they figured it out. In any case, they flew away in a swarm while I was napping. My husband and daughter saw it.
They left behind some hexagons. That’s what bees do. They make combs. I can imagine that some of the bees were deciding if this particular branch was going to be the final home, and others of the bees didn’t care, they were bees. Bees make combs.
So leaves and berries were holding wax, because these bees were not uncertain.
Wherever they were, no matter what they were bees and bees do what bees do.
I like to think that is a reason to trust the unknown. I may not know what is happening out there, when I’m moving into an area I don’t know.
That’s no reason to do nothing. I still gotta do what I know I gotta do. I’m inspired by my bee visitors. The bee scout danced her dance to find a new home. The worker bees worked and made wax combs, even if both of those were ignored in the end.
Wasting effort wasn’t a problem. The bigger problem would be giving up and doing nothing.