As a beekeeper I was often called upon to pick up swarms that had located in houses, trees, or places people had not planned for the bees to be. One afternoon a woman telephoned me, excited about a swarm in a bush in her front yard. “There are thousands of bees flying all around. We are trapped in our house!”
I reassured her I would be there. I waited purposefully for evening, not to make her anxious but to wait for the opportune time to collect the swarm.
Driving down her street I could not help but notice the group of tattooed shirtless teenage males who were watching me closely. “What are you doing here?” one of them challenged. I ignored them as I checked addresses.
I pulled up in front of the house reputed to have the swarm. The boys sauntered closer, curious why I had dared invade their turf. From my car I pulled out an empty beehive and some equipment. Since I was clad in a tee shirt and shorts it was clear I was no threat to them. The young men hesitated and then edged closer.
I located the bees, a large hanging cluster of about thirty to forty thousand bees, shoulder high, in a bush nearby, and started up my smoker. There were hundreds of bees still flying in to join the growing clump so the teenagers held their distance. It was obvious the young men were intensely interested.
On the spur of the moment I decided to make this a magic show. I placed a sheet between the bush and the entrance of the hive. I found a cage, a small hollow box designed to hold one queen, among my bee supplies. I gave the swarm a few puffs of smoke to calm them, then reached into the swarm where I thought the queen would be. After a few seconds I located her among the thousands of workers and quickly placed her in the small cage.
The boys could not see the cage. They could only see me reaching barehanded into the large cluster of bees. I opened the top of the hive and placed the caged queen inside. The other bees, missing her presence and her scent, began stirring, moving faster and faster.
I stood next to the hive. “Abra cadabra,” I intoned. “Bees, come into my hive.” On cue, a few bees flying around found the queen, and then others. Suddenly thousands of bees were flying and crawling towards the hive, a living moving mass seemingly under my command. I waited for a few minutes until most of the bees were inside, closed the hive, shoved a screen in the entrance, and placed it into my car. I collected my equipment and then slowly turned around. I looked at the boys, who still stood spellbound.
A few hundred bees were still flying about, searching for their queen. I waved above my head and toward the heavens. “Go, and find another place to live, a bush, a tree, or a human.” The boys could see the remaining bees circling the bush, becoming more frantic, and looking for moving objects. At that point the boys must have assumed my “magic” had turned the bees onto the world, and the teenagers began swatting and racing away.
My awed hostile audience was gone and I quietly drove to my bee yard and deposited the hive, took away the screen, and left for the night.
I had no magic. I only knew what was real and used it to capture a swarm. I could not use supernatural power to send the bees against the boys, as Jesus sent the demons into the herd of swine. My “magic” was knowledge, knowing what was real and what was not, knowing that all life acts according to patterns that have already been set in motion. The young men were in control of their turf, and I was an intruder. The bees were in control of their area and the young men were the intruders. I was simply there in the moment, creating a safer world for bees and the teenagers. I had no magic, but I did have fun. That’s what life is sometimes, taking a negative situation and creating something out of nothing.