When a swarm of bees comes, the sensible reaction is to retreat from your outdoor morning tea and put a barrier of house between yourself and the bees. You know a swarm approaches by the persistent buzzing, irreducible motion and clamor.

the sky with cirrus clouds before the swarm

This morning, I had just photographed a front of cirrus clouds when the ordinary neighborhood sounds of traffic and birds were interrupted by a swarm—thousands of bees, tiny amber bodies zinging in what would surely be a wild scribble should one attempt to map their route in any detail more than from-here-to-there, from point of departure to where the swarm ultimately sets down, coalescing into a mass, the place where someone calls the bee man. With the swarm only a few feet above my head, I withdrew indoors. Being beneath a swarm of bees for even a few seconds raises your heart rate. It’s a real attention-getter like sleeping in a tent and hearing a mountain lion scream just over the hill. Inside the house and through a screened window I watched the swarm shift east, hovering for a few moments over the neighbor’s backyard then vanishing from my sight, following (I presume) the queen.

After the swarm departed, three violet-green swallows circled the roof and very high in the small patch of sky between eaves and trees three bald eagles soared in languid loops. Once again, there was the sound of traffic.