The swarm

Bee keepin’ goddess Camie, Canon A1

I’ve been afraid of bees my entire life.

I think I inherited this fear from my mom, who upon seeing any variety of stinging insect would RUN, literally, run away. I think this is the only running I ever witnessed my mom doing.

Like an obedient offspring, I have to fight the urge to run when I see a bee coming. When I moved into Matt’s house, I had to make peace with the bees that our dear friend Camie was keeping in the back yard.

I’ve been relatively comfortable with the them, but only from a distance. I stare at them from the kitchen window, rarely going into the backyard. Every once in a while, I entertain getting over this fear by doing something a bit risky. Like last week, I watched (and didn’t run away) when Camie went into their hive to retrieve some honey.

When she returned, honeycomb in hand, she said, “They weren’t happy about this.”

And then, a week later, they swarmed.

Several people were in the back yard doing construction, when a loud hum like an airplane motor filled the space. They all looked up, and the bees, all 40,000 of them, had risen up in a plume of smoke and hovered over the yard. In perfect formation, they migrated, united in their escape, and moved into the tree in our neighbor’s yard.

Whoa. It was a very X-Files moment.

When we told our neighbor that there was a beehive in his backyard, he said, “No problem, it’s fine.” Then Camie explained, “No, you don’t understand. There are 40,000 bees in your backyard.”

“Oh,” he said, “Should I be worried about that?”

Yesterday, the bee club dude arrived for the big rescue. He and Cam, all suited up like crazy astronauts, whacked the branch of the tree where they settled, and in one big THUNK, the entire hive landed in the cardboard box they held below it.

They duct taped it closed, poked holes in the top, and just like that, it was over. The bees were gone.

I’ve been trying to figure out what inspired them to leave, why they chose that particular moment to flee. Had they been planning it for a long time? Did they hate their queen? Were they peeved that their honey was stolen? Were they just ready?

It made me think of my dear friend who has been living in Brazil for more than five years now. She emailed me this morning and told me she’s ready to leave. She had been planning to move back to California, but it just hit her today, suddenly, that it’s time.

Has it ever just hit you, like a swarm of bees, that it was time to go?

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.



  1. Rachel

    YES! So many times. From within the nucleus of my immediate family, from within the nightmare circus of an abusive relationship, from my very own hometown to seek out my fortune.
    I’m feeling kind of swarmy.

  2. Hannah

    Funny. I’ve been feeling alot like that lately. NYC is home alrighty, but this gypsy child feels the east wind blowing again I’ve also been thinking about moving to Brazil. Salvador de Bahia to be precise.

  3. stef

    YES! I felt it in my younger years – leaving my small home town to go off to college, then a couple of years in college I had to leave again and then a couple of years later I moved again and then all of a sudden I moved out here to San Francisco from Wisconsin! Now, I’m getting anxious and very swarmy! You never know where I could end up next…always looking for something new I guess….
    Thanks for bringing up all these wonderful thoughts:)

  4. jen

    oh yes….i have 8 more days left until i leave my job. i have no idea where i am going to land, i just know my honey pot is empty and its time to move on and brew up flavor elsewhere….
    i loved this story andrea 🙂 thanks

  5. liz

    Oh do I ever!!
    wild story!

  6. Julia

    WOW!! This story of yours is so timely right now, that it’s almost spooky. I’ve been feeling the need to “swarm” lately too. Whether I can actually do so at this point in my life….that’s another story…. But it’s good for my gypsy soul to think about it anyway. Thank you for inspiring my wanderlust and making me think about changing my direction. When it’s my time to “swarm” I think I’ll be ready.

  7. amanda

    I feel that way right now! Like I have to get away, do something different. I wonder if it’s the weather change? Now that the warm stuff is coming through it makes me want to escape, feel grass on my feet, take my time, and not have to worry about life.
    Thanks for this post Andrea, now I know I’m not the only one.

  8. tasha.

    Absolutely. I felt that way when I left a relationship that had run its course and I suddenly realized it, I felt that way when I was applying for colleges and determined that I msot definitely could not tolerate attending a school in my home state, I’ve felt that way many times. I think it’s good that we have that instinct, I think it protects us.
    And back to bees- big, giant, ICK. I hate bees too. And wasps. I still have a perfectly round scar on my knee from where a wasp stung me when I was younger and I’ve been bitter ever since. (Outside of being bitter, I won’t go into the fleeing dance I do when I see them…)

  9. fern

    I wonder what inspires me to STAY?..I feel swarmy a lot and keep staying here…is it time to move on?..being a family makes the swarm impulse so complicated..who decides…husband wants to move pacific south west…sounds ok..I’m feeling like the deset might be nice…three kids like it here in NE and we do too…but…..what next? when ? where? we just keep dreaming, curled up in our cozy,corner with the ice melting and the black flies buzzing…

  10. willo

    hi andrea! great post… yes, it must be something in the air. i myself am uprooting & leaving my current comfy home & boyfriend of several years. (there I said it! i haven’t even written this on my own site!!) it’s a very scary time and sad – but overall its where the winds are taking me. here i go! bzzzzz ~ willo

  11. Sharyn

    The need to flee struck me far more frequently when I was younger. With the mom gig going on I’ve been in serious nesting mode for a couple of years…but still get the urge now and then. A brief trip usually takes care of it.
    As for bees. Whoa. Growing up I had some serious bee-terror ingrained in me, as my mother is allergic. Turns out this has come in handy, somewhat, as my poor sweet son is also allergic (big yay for epi-pens). I’ve no idea whether or not I am. Apparently I’ve run fast and far enough, as I’ve never been stung.

  12. Kate

    That’s how I got away from Erm, actually–I knew I needed to break up with him, and then all of the sudden, during a Sociology class, I realized I needed to break things off. Just like that. And I never looked back or questioned the decision–it was time, that was it, I did it, and a year later…wow, what heaven life is now by comparison. ;o)

  13. Allison

    Wow. Yes!!!!!

  14. stef

    yes and i think that feeling that urge to get up and go lies in each of us… but it depends on how good we are at letting go to what we have at that time. some leave for the sake of finding better things… others leave because it was time and still others leave because they think what they have is too good for them or not right. but i love your bee story!

  15. HG

    Immediate relief from beestings, a dab of laundry bluing. Yes, it stains the skin but the relief is heavenly and one can always use the rest of the bottle to keep those whites white. – A squeak from the former eight year-old beekeeper, now incarcerated in Urban Life.

  16. UK girl

    Once, big time. 11 months to the day after my wedding. I woke up that morning, looked at my erstwhile husband and thought “I can’t do this any more”. It hit me between the eyes with amazing clarity. I got up, showered, packed and left.

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