When the swarm first arrived I was so afraid of them. The din was so loud and menacing. It spelt danger. A whole swarm of bees making their home right there within the walls beneath the bathroom window! I was so afraid they would enter through the window and just cause havoc within the house but no, they stayed outside. Well….they did until they found their way through the cracks in the walls of our old home to the inside of the bathroom. There they came out in numbers just next to the taps. After a while you could smell the sweetness of the honey, a constant reminder of their presence even when they were quiet. You would think we would have gotten rid of them then.
Actually, we thought about it, but never seriously got round to doing it at that time.
So for a few years we lived with them. To this day I have not experienced a sting from these bees but everyone else has including the dogs. Yet over those same years my fear of them began to subside and now, when I find a few strays in the bathroom, it no longer means I cannot enter the room. I learnt to watch their activity level and get a sense of whether they were agitated or not and therefore steer clear of them when it was necessary.
Then my heart opened up to them and I began to try and help them out of the bathroom. They clearly just went the wrong way. Initially, a whole lot of them would gather together by the corner of a closed window. I would pluck up some courage and open it only to find they at times would not even pick up on the change of scenario. They could just fly out and be free. Instead…some remained and eventually just died there. So I worked harder, began to coax them out. Over time they seemed to learn and we got less and less bees coming in. Actually it did help that we closed off the little gap in the grouting that was letting light into their hive and probably confusing them..
It took quite a few months and the gap was back. By the time this happened something caught my eyes. For the first time I was looking at the largest bees I had ever seen. They were not stupid either. They didn’t fly into the windows….well….hardly. The bees had become gentler towards us too. Or at least that’s what we believed. I remember one day, a bee flew down my sister’s dress and did not sting at her. They also seemed to understand that I just wanted to help them get out of the bathroom. So then began my bee saving routine. I would find a few and use something that they could climb onto, then drop them off outside. It was so intriguing. I actually thought perhaps that is why we had such huge bees. They were helped to live longer. I romanticized about them spreading the word amongst themselves about the bee saver…me. Even convinced myself that maybe that is why I was the only one at home who had not been stung yet.
It wasn’t long when things changed again. All of a sudden, the number of bees finding their way into the bathroom increased. It seemed the swarm had a whole new generation. They were active outside, very hyper but lacked smarts. These young ones would be flying around then all of a sudden go absolutely crazy as if something terrible had hit them. In the bathroom I would find a whole lot of lost ones, some even heavy with pollen, wasting away on the walls. I tried to rescue as many as I could. They got me though. They would climb up whatever object I put before them then keep still as I carried them to the window and left them outside on the window sill so they could re-join their family.
After a while I realised that a lot of bees were lying dead on the windowsill. I wondered if it was any of the ones I had tried to rescue. It was heart breaking. Were my efforts in vain? The one day, I watched the most painful thing since they had arrived. There was a little spider along the outside wall. A little guy, with a good, strong web! In his web was one of the new younger bees. Poor bee was trying so hard to escape. He was not completely tangled up but his wings were compromised. I was tempted to help him but the picture of the dead ones on the window sill made stop. Right there I had to make a choice. Do I save this bee from being consumed by this spider, just so he could die on the windowsill since he would not be able to use his wings. I could not remove the web from his wings though I must say I did wonder how it could be done. The most painful thing though was I was watching him fight so hard, buzzing frantically away, with the spider watching so close. It broke my heart badly.On that day though is the day that I remembered the phrase, survival of the fittest. Nature has always had a way of culling the weaker ones out. Also…the spider had to eat too. I closed my eyes and turned away.
That was the day I decided to let nature do its thing. I realised I actually could not save all of them. I only helped the ones that had just flown in and still had some strength in them. However once they had been there for a while and had slowed down…I left them alone. If I did help them out, it was just so they do not die completely alone, on the wall. Survival of the fittest! Only the strong survive! That is how life is, no matter what my heart got me to do.