I came home the other day to find that all of these honey bees had gotten inside. They were buzzing up and down the large windows of the kitchen, trying to get out. Someone had left the back door open, and the nearby Hawthorne tree being in full bloom, some of them must have happened their way into the house and were now, unsuccessfully, trying to get out. There were tons of honey bee carcasses littering the window pane.
Realizing the beauty and preciousness of honey bees (in a way I lament I do not feel about all flying insects), I began to gather them up, one by one and let them go, back out the door. I took a large mason jar, trapped a single bee against the glass, and sliding a piece of paper between the jar and the glass, carried the caged bee to the open air outside the door.
One by one, they flew back out to meet their mates.
About 10 minutes later, I went out back to have a smoke. As I stood there in the bright afternoon sun, pausing with the cigarette to my lips, I heard the sounds of bees buzzing. I looked out, maybe 100 feet away, and there were – no joke – thousands and thousands – an entire swarm, or maybe two swarms, approaching the house! At first it was just fun to watch, but as they got closer – quickly – I got a bit nervous and ran back in the house for shelter.
After I realized it was safe to be outside, I sat and marveled at them exploring all the nuthatch and flicker drilled holes on the side of the house, presumably for a hive. Then I walked around to the front of the house and there, on the corner of the roof, the entire swarm was crowded around a giant former nuthatch hole! The bees were building their hive on the side of the house!
This all happened not ten minutes after I freed about 7 or 8 or their brethren. Did the bees that I freed go back out into the forest and pass on the knowledge that there was a bee-friendly person at this house? Did they say “Our search is over! We found a great place to build the hive!” Or was it just a “coincidence?”
I am not an expert in honeybee behavior. I’m sure they swarm all the time like this in the spring. But that doesn’t really matter to me, in terms of how I make meaning from this experience.
All I know is I had an intentional thought: bees are important and I must free each one, one by one. 10 minutes later several thousand bees landed on the side of my house.
No matter what happened – no matter if it was a coincidence or an actual case of a sort of communication with the more-than-human world – I was filled with the wonder and the certainty and the reminder that consciousness is real, that love is real, and that we – all us beings, plants, animals, rocks, suns, stars, skies and bees – we feel each other, we know each other, and when we want to, we can commune in a way the human culture tells us we cannot.
And yet we can, and we do.
I think this is happening always. I am grateful to know it again, deeper.