My worst beekeeping nightmare came true within ten minutes of me stepping foot in the apiary today. Two prospective beekeepers had arrived and Andy asked me if I could show them round the apiary quickly before they put their beesuits on later. Big mistake. Big, big mistake. I took them round and all was fine until someone asked one of the other beekeepers what the entrance reducer in one of the hives was. He, also un-beesuited, took it out and showed them. He then slid it back in. The bees didn’t like this, and one flew straight out and landed on my face, even though I was standing some way away. I instinctively tried to grab it because it was crawling towards my eye, and then she stung me. I now look like this:
…only worse, because that was taken when I’d just got home. Now it has swelled up a lot more, and is very swollen and painful. Liam, another beekeeper, told me that he got stung just above the eyebrow one day, and didn’t feel too bad before he went to bed. Then he woke up…and he couldn’t see. His eyes had swollen up that much. So I’m scared now, and annoyed that tomorrow is meant to be a beautiful sunny day and I’ll be stumbling around in agony looking like a grotesque swollen monster. Never again am I going near the hives without a bee suit on!
At least it was good news inside our hives, and none of our bees tried to sting me, because they’re nice like that. This is Queen Rosemary’s hive. They have nearly filled up a whole super and are taking up most of their brood box.
Queen Rosemary, the blue dotted dark beauty above, is a new queen born this year. She is the daughter of Rose, our previous queen, who we split into another colony while Rosemary was still growing in her queen cell. Emma had marked Rosemary on May 21st, after which she gave us a bit of a shock by promptly flying right off.
Rosemary is rather feisty and enjoys giving us the run-around on the frames. However, this must be the ultimate symbol of her rebellious nature:
It was once a queen marking cage! We used it to pin Rosemary down whilst Emma marked her, but during the shock of her flying off it fell to the bottom of the brood box where we forgot to rescue it until today. That string would normally be crisscrossed in a grid pattern across the top, allowing us to mark the queen between the gaps but not allowing her to escape. There have clearly been orders given direct from the top: the queen marking cage could not be tolerated! Who knows what they would have done with the unravelled string if we’d left it in there longer.
All was well in Queen Rose’s hive too, her colony is gradually expanding since been transferred into a full size hive from the nuc a couple of weeks ago, and is now across about seven frames.