A few weeks ago, bees invaded my office. It started with one bee. I got a glass and a sheet of paper, trapped it, and let it free outside. By the time I returned to my desk, there were four more bees on the window. They were loud and angry.
Uneasy and not knowing what to do, I walked back to the doorway. By the time I got there, two more bees had materialized. I couldn’t tell where they were coming from but they were clearly joining their angry cohorts in my office.
And I was heading out of it.
Yes, I’m a wimp. I shut my office door and stuffed a towel at its base. One bee was doable. Even two I could have handled. But six? There was obviously a hive nearby and my office was on the flight path. I needed human back up or a beekeeper’s suit or a plan.
I wandered outside and waited for Mr. Petrol Head to arrive (Did I mention Mr. P. used to be allergic to bee stings? He says he’s outgrown it but I’m not sure. However, I’m allergic to fear so I figured we each had something at stake). My office has an outside wall and when I got outside, I spotted a lot of flying activity around it. Sure enough, once Mr. P. got home he confirmed what I suspected: there was a large hive under the eaves. And they obviously had back door access to my office.
Mr. P. suggested I sit at my desk and watch to determine where the bees were coming from. I suggested renting office space outside the home until bee season was over. Like until next Christmas maybe. Mr. P. quickly got busy looking for that back door.
Eventually he discovered a microscopic opening around a drain pipe running through my closet. That, he said, was the problem. He stuffed the tiny hole with coarse steel wool and declared the problem solved. “Even mice won’t chew through that stuff,” he reassured me.
I got back to work. Two hours later, immersed in my latest manuscript, I felt a tickle on my neck. And I heard a buzzing in my ear. Let’s just say I scared the bee more than he scared me.
Mr. Petrol Head returned. The short version of a very long story is this: mice may not chew through steel wool but determined bees will crawl through it looking for nectar rich flowers. So out came a pressurized can filled with expanding foam that hardens when it dries. The tiny hole was sealed once and for all. The bees no longer had back door access to my office. Now they come and go through the front door of their hive. As they should.
What does this have to do with writing? A writer friend asked me about a week later why the bees had shown up in my office in the first place. What were they trying to tell me? (Because that’s what writers do – we make ourselves crazy looking for meaning not only in the books we write but also in the lives we live). I told her I’d been wondering the same thing.
So I looked up bee symbolism. Bees are an unstoppable force of nature. They symbolise love and cooperation, the magic of believing. They remind us that anything is possible. They ask us if we’re busy (I was) and putting out 100% effort (mostly, yes, except for my occasional HGTV habit). What are we feeding ourselves, bee magic asks. Are we rewarding ourselves for our efforts? Basking in the sweetness of life?
Um. That would be a ‘no.’ At least the part about basking in the sweetness of life (I have no problem feeding myself, and doing it well). But as for rewarding myself for my efforts, I’m bad for that. I don’t take nearly enough breaks. In fact, I haven’t had an actual holiday in a couple of years. So I decided to listen to the bees and book one. We leave tomorrow.
Mr. Petrol Head is going too. Given that he (possibly) risked his life looking for the back door, he deserves it. Besides, it’s our anniversary. And I don’t know anything sweeter than that.