Living Gold

closeup yellow head of honey bee
Bee Head with pollen

Emma is expecting something, as she pulls up in front of the house. Dance’s phone call alerted her.

“Honey bees, all in the garden. A swarm!”

But–she wasn’t expecting anything like this. The roaring of uncountable wings penetrates the closed windows and engine noises of her old Volvo. In the sunset light, the air in front of the house is blurred with tiny dark bodies in vivid motion; whorls and streamers and galaxies— tornadoes and skyrockets of bees. The neighbors all stand on porches, safely across the street, turning wondering faces towards her home.

The noise increases in pitch as she opens her door. The bees spill over the boundaries of Dance’s garden into adjacent lawns, and eddy against the her car now that it’s still. Some of them land on the hood, crawling across the pinging warmth of the surface. They tickle, and are unexpectedly heavy, on her bare arms. She lifts her hand to study one crawling on her wrist; the fine plush banded in nickle yellow and rusty black, the delicate, impatient wings, the glossy little head with its sturdy antennae. She can feel its claws release her skin on take-off.

bee hovering at flower
Bee with pollen sacs full

Emma walks slowly to the sidewalk. Close up, she can hear a slightly higher pitch of individual thrumming as they flash past, and the hurtling bodies make her blink reflexively. She wants to call out to the house, but is afraid to open her mouth, lest they fly into it. The family across the street is shouting at her to get away, get to safety, but Emma walks steadily between the bees to the gate, and into the maelstrom. Turning to her left, she sees them in sunlight– brilliant glittering gold, like champagne bubbles or confetti, and she finds herself laughing helplessly at the fantastic beauty. Bees rush towards her, race away, til she feels the air is made of motion.

Dance comes out of the house, and she watches him glide through the golden cosmos towards her.

“This is many swarms,” he says loudly over the booming. “I have counted at least eight beeballs, and they won’t settle– so many swarms, I think, not enough trees for them. I have never heard of this.” Living gold besprinkles his black hair.

“You are crying? I did too.” He reaches up and wipes her wet face.

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  1. nagasvoice

    Wonderful imagery here, I love it.  Would this happen just before "Bad Dreams to Share" (where they mention Drin has budies who pick up the bees) or is this another swarm that happens again, after that?

    It’s possible, if some of these are modded combat bees who escaped from the labs after being brought over from Afghanistan and places like that, that these are real tough descendents of the same bees that Drin used to work with, or that they’re recaptured from swarms off that batch that he released–and they’re coming back to him, to his scent, at some preprogrammed gene-eng signal or other.  Now, if this is an attack by Big Ag, it’s backfiring.  If it’s accidental, one wonders what set it off!

  2. Stella Omega

    This comes before "bad Dreams" and was inspired by same. But I wanted it to be more than a *mere* swarm, yanno. because the normal always turns into a Tall Tale around our three. (although this link says that as many as 30,000 bees will go with the Queen in a swarm.)

    It’s meant to be foreshadowing, too…

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