It’s that time of year again where I check on the bees and they get stroppy at me and the obvious result ensues. I should learn to wear a veil, tsk tsk…
Anyway, I had a semi inspection at the weekend; I had looked in on Christmas eve after the storm blew through and there had been some disruption. At the Hastingwood apiary the roof of a WBC had come off sometime during ‘the weather’ and was lying 10ft away upturned and full of rain water. Fortunately I had put hessian sack on top of the crown board over the hole, although it was soaked at least it mean it hadn’t been raining directly into the hive and onto the balled bees. Also the constructed insulated hive cover I had built had been battered by the wind and lost its lid.
Back to this weekend, I went and strapped up the hive covers with lots of duct tape. I also looked in on each hive and fed them fondant. Some of the bees were doing very well, some less well but fine colonies for saying it was the middle of winter. The first hive was doing very well, I found this out party by accident. On lifting the roof it would seem the crown board was stuck to it; so I was left looking at bees covering about 7 frames, but me without a veil, and they were getting cold. On top of that the crown board was still stuck with bees attached to it.
After dealing with that one, the next had nearly as many bees all trying to come out the the crown board hole at once. The next was the one which had lost the roof a couple of weeks before. I was concerned because these bees are very productive and calm during handling. They were still in there and I am sure glad of some fondant.
I had a bit of trouble with the last hive. I had left the feeder on top because they had not touched the sugar syrup previously. I know I am not supposed to, but they had not taken any syrup down, like the others did. Also if you have ever dealt with a feeder full of syrup you will know what a treacherous beast they can be, waiting to spill all over your trousers at the slightest provocation. Either way it needed taking off, not helped by the fact it was glued down with propolis. I had resolved to kill two birds with one stone after loosening with the hive tool, remove the feeder by flipping it, emptying it onto the floor; the plan being to quickly put the crown board on in its place with minimal time for the bees to get upset / chilled. Fate had other plans.
Flipping the feeder off worked, however in the process the hive was dislodged on its stand; one corner slipping into the middle of the stand the other corner going up in the air. With me without a veil the outcome was inevitable. On trying to right the hive, it brought my face into range and one caught me on the left cheekbone. Curses ! The problem with getting stung in the face is that you aren’t able to see the sting to scrape it out, unless you happen to have a mirror with you. I scraped where I thought the sting was with my hive tool, and things were starting to get ‘interesting’, me without a veil, smelling of alarm pheromone and one hive open and the others disturbed from their inspections and getting interested in the outside. I virtually threw the crown board on top, shoved the hive back into position, put the fondant on and packed up.
The next apiary was mixed in population, some burgeoning, some quieter, but still alive. Although I wore a veil for this one, it was the last hive that got me again.
At the last apiary the job could not have been quicker. Insulation cover off, lid off, inner insulation off, bees coming out the crown board hole – fondant on, inner insulation on, lid on insulation cover on and done. 40-50 seconds.
All told 9 hives, all alive, success so far. Hopefully I wont need to go back to them for at least a couple of weeks, depending on the weather, and even then only to check on the amount of fondant they have made it through.
End of the story, but I wont learn, at least not enough to not get stung.