I came home late in the day and first thing went upstairs to check for phone messages.  The study is long, narrow and runs along the top of the stairwell with a window at the end.  When I turned the corner at the top I went 'zero at the bone".  Not for the sight of a snake, as Emily Dickinson so perfectly describes, but instead a clouding swarm of bees.  There were hundreds at the window.  Inside.

I slowly reached for the phone and once I had it in hand backed around the corner and eased my way down the stairs.  After a childhood filled with emergency hospital runs to treat sting induced anapalactic shock I am less than bold when dealing with bees.  Although the potency of my allergy has lessened over the years caution definitely prevails concerning apis mellifica.

So I slip outside with the phone and call Wayne and Becky.  Do they know anything about swarms of bees?  The answer is no but they immediately go to the phone book and on-line looking for help.  No luck at this time of day and then Becky remembers a friend who has a friend who is a beekeeper.  I call her to call him and he calls me back immediately.

He thinks I'm safe enough downstairs in my bedroom and that the bees are settling down for the evening.  We make plans for him to come out and gather up this hive first thing in the morning.  Good enough.  I spend a not too terribly restless night and wake, not surprisingly, very early.

First thing, I go to the bottom of the stairs and listen for the hum of them.  And hear nothing.  Curiosity gets the better of me every time and this one is no exception.  So up I go.  When I look around the corner I see, at the end of the study on the floor by the window sill, a great pile of bees.  All dead.

I call the beekeeper and let him know what has happened.  To let him know not to come.  And hopefully to learn what could have caused the deaths of this swarm as I am very puzzled and saddened too. What he had to say breaks my heart a bit.

What he tells me is this:  the hive, once they lose their queen, do not live long.  She, it seems, is their very life.  And they, in losing her, lost theirs.