The Swarm

What’s funnier than a guy in a bee suit? Eighteen people in bee suits! I’m serious, put eighteen bees on a yellow bus, run a few bars, and hilarity is bound to ensue. How do I know? I just know.


My dream-team bee-day Swarm convened at Pacific Coast Brewing in Oakland. Idling outside: the classic 1948 GMC motor coach of my good friend, Dr. Robert B. Flying in singly and in pairs: bees of every description; unshaven Belushi bees, south-of-the-border abejas locas, at least two queen bees, a dangerous Asian killer bee, a rare umpire bee, a sweat bee, a meat bee, and some punk bees striped in black duct tape.


After a few introductory beers and a quick stop at the nearby B Bar, the Swarm winged its way waterward for a private tasting and tour at the Linden Street Brewery. The proprietor, Adam, was so bee-struck that he not only poured gratis, but donated a keg for the bus. Bee-youtiful!  There’s nothing like free beer for washing down all those shots of Barenjaeger. On the sound system: seventeen variations on Flight of the Bumblebee. Get frantic, bee-yatch!



Buzzing madly, the Swarm went next to Heinhold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, a tiny waterfront joint that could barely contain the infestation. A non-bee patron stood up and told an amazing story: she had recently lost a teenaged son, and his favorite animal was – you guessed it – the bee. After his death, the family received frequent visits from bees, taking comfort in the notion that perhaps his spirit was somehow calling on them. She was not a Heinhold’s regular, but had merely stopped in to put a photo of her son behind the bar at one of his favorite watering holes. Mere moments after performing this act of remembrance: the Swarm arrived! She wept with happiness. The bees drank to her and to her son. Also to Jack London, California almonds, Heinhold, and whoever invented the Stinger.


At the nearby Merchant’s Saloon, the Swarm took to the dance floor and moshed it up with the local skanks and gutterpunks. You have to see the video to bee-lieve it!  After that, things got hazy. In any case, there was a sudden hive collapse about the time of the last BART train, with straggler bees crashing some party somewhere. It was a red-dress event (for men and women alike) but despite the clash of costumes, the bees were welcomed enthusiastically. Everyone loves a swarm – especially when it brings a keg!


For more bee swarm photos, see here and here and here.


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