Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, pre-bee swarm, in Malawi. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

But those metaphors became a bit more real today when Clinton’s trip to Malawi on Monday reportedly ended with a hastened goodbye prompted by a swarm of bees.

Local press reported a “a mini panic at the international airport after bees thronged the area.” An eyewitness told the Nyasa Times that people “scampered” in all directions to avoid the critters and that Clinton made double-time to board the plane to avoid them.

But a State Department spokeswoman played down Clinton’s reported brush with the dangerous insects. “No panic or fleeing at all,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told Buzzfeed. Just “normal bees.”

And our colleague Anne Gearan, who was travelling in the motorcade behind Clinton, confirms that the tales of swarms of killer bees are highly exaggerated. There were some bees on the tarmac, but “no one was ever in any danger,” she assured us.

Still, just to be on the safe side, Clinton — who is on an 11-day tour of Africa and stopped in Malawi to meet with the country’s first female president — might want to rethink the bees-with-honey approach to diplomacy.