Our neighbours have a beehive in their garden, close to our back door. We had been warned that if we saw a big cluster of bees in the air, to stay out of the way. Little did I know, those words would really come in handy.
While I was busy with housework, the doorknock came for help. The air outside was thick with bees; the hum so loud I could feel it in my body. Were they angry? Were they going to hurt people? Where were the beekeepers?
Could I do something about it? Of course. That sounds like a great excuse not to do the mountain of housework.
Capturing the bees took more than a day, a couple of international phonecalls (the beekeepers were sunning themselves on tropical islands), and many neighbourhood conversations. The Beekeeping Association sent a beekeeper, fully kitted out, to encourage the swarm into a box to be taken away.
But here’s the thing: bees swarm when they are on the hunt for a new home, and they are led by one queen. She is supposedly at the centre of the swarm. If you coax her into the box, all the rest follow. But the box wasn’t big enough for the whole swarm. Were we going to get angry bees? Would anybody get stung?
Before bees leave their hive, they fill up on honey. (Fuel for the journey). When they are so honey-filled, their bodies are bent and they can’t sting you. Who knew that? It’s kinda handy to know when soothing neighbourhood concerns.
We live in a built-up area a stones-throw to the city centre, yet we have a community garden, chooks and beehives within metres. A whole lot of us plant food for the bees, and we like to look out for them, knowing, worldwide, that they are in danger. How will we eat if bees are not there to do the pollinating of plants our food chain relies on?
At the same time the bees were on the move, so was the harmony in our home. It could have been the spring, or planetary alignments, but more likely, plain exhaustion that brought things to a head. The signals started in a much more subtle way than seeing and hearing bees in very large numbers. But I missed them. I was crazy busy with three generations under our roof; two grandchildren under two, not enough sleep. I had been away from home for months, and the house and garden needed attention.
A pile of things weren’t going well. So when that momentum was broken, it was actually a relief.
How do I make sense of how things got so off-track? And that is what this blog is going to focus on. Being in a place, in your relationships with others, that is not where you want to be.
How do you name the dynamics, own the situation, and move on?
Experienced beekeepers can accurately forecast what swarming bees will do, and can manage any associated risk. (Stay calm, keep out of the way). Like bees, humans have patterns of behaviour, and there are risks to be managed. Sometimes we make the right decisions; sometimes not.
What matters is to take the longer view. Do your best. Be as kind as you can to everyone; yourself included. Not every story has a happy ending. But there are always things we can do to improve our situation. Stopping. Just stopping can be a good start.
What do you tend to do first when you come across a big swarm of bees, human or otherwise? Where is there swarming in your life right now? At home, at work, in the neighbourhood? To leave a comment, just click on the post.