The Nature of Bees

Vivien pushed open the door to the orchard. The wood was crumbling splinters against her palms. There was a sound on the air, a hum between the trees, a buzz, the Om that underlies the universe. It hung before her, sound given body.

It was a swarm.


 I wrote this story after visiting our beekeeping friends, Sara and Dave Moore. It was early in a summer’s morning and I went out into the garden. I heard the buzzing before I saw them. A huge ball of bees hung in the air ahead of me.  I suddenly felt very small and vulnerable. Afterwards I did some reading about bee society. It’s brutal.

 This story appeared in Issue 38 of Albedo One. It received a Honorable Mention in Best Horror of the Year  3(2011) and made Locus’ 2010 Recommended  Reading List.

You can read the entire story here.


In ‘The Nature Of Bees’, Priya Sharma describes a mysterious country estate that seems lost in the Middle Ages, full of strange rituals and quaint attitudes. When a single woman moves into one of the estate cottages, she soon becomes captivated by the residents in a bucolic yet bewitching tale.  Gareth D Jones for SF Crowsnest

Vivien moves into the old beekeeper’s house next to the estate where bees have always been raised. The honey is said to be an aphrodisiac. Although Vivien has led a life of celibacy for years, she blossoms there. But there is more to the place thanhoney. The denizens of the estate are more bee than human, and their queen is dying, worn out by constant procreation. The society of the human hive, with its sterile sisters and indolent brothers, is nicely done. But the sensuous descriptions of Vivien’s transformation are erotically compelling. Recommended.   Lois Tilton for Locus Online

 Sharma’s “The Nature of Bees” tells of a divorced woman renting a cottage in the country. There she encounters the mysterious family of caretakers, and she has a little fling with one of the young men, only to realize that this family’s view of the roles of women and men is a bit unusual. Indeed, as we guess from the start, the upshot is a sort of literalization of a human family organized like bees — which works as a story mostly due to Sharma’s lush prose.  Rich Horton for The SF Site
Priya Sharma’s ‘The Nature of Bees’ tells of a woman coming into her summer late. She blossomed at the age of thirty-eight, a time when most women are past ripeness, their fruit sampled and discarded. It’s a beautifully written fantasy of one woman’s visit to a mysterious country estate. Highly Recommended.  Colin Harvey for

3 thoughts on “The Nature of Bees

  1. Loved loved this story. I recently submitted a story of a similar vein to Albedo One. In my tale, golden wasps are the buzz (☺). Check out the synopsis here.
    I do just love the way you pulled in the bee facts. Brutal indeed. In

  2. Thanks Karen! Good luck with your wasp story.

  3. Karen says:

    It’s at Albedo One, second time around. I got lucky and Freda Warrington critiqued the first version I submitted. Then., as soon as I followed her advice to cut one character out, I had an epiphany and the whole story got better. It may even have a part II. John Kenny had done the initial review and said the first version didn’t quite hold him all the way through. I hope, this time around, it does more than just hold interest. Thanks for stopping by my website and I look forward to hearing more about your work!

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