After days of rain and coolness, it cleared up a bit this afternoon, so I thought I’d split the hive on my allotment, using Ron Brown’s two queen method to produce a crop of queen cells, maybe a nuc or two and a good crop of honey. I selected this colony because it is the only one I have within walking distance and because it is always good tempered, never scoring less than 5 for temper on their record card.
I had prepared the board, last used some years ago, a few days ago and had a brood box with suitable comb round the edges of the frames ready and waiting in my polytunnel.
They were flying strongly, bringing in lots of pollen so I placed the equipment next to the hive, gave them a spray of liquid smoke at the entrance and then donned my tunic and veil, recently washed. Working down from the top, they aren’t yet using the supers but the brood box looks pretty full. I misted the queen excluder and gently removed it. I placed a dummy board over the central combs to keep me out of the bees’ line of vision.
Then I heard voices and, looking up, saw that the pony in the paddock next door had a visit from its owner and a farrier. They were about 50 yards away and seemed not to have noticed me so I carried on. It was then that I received my first sting! I removed the first couple of combs, looking for the queen, observing plenty of healthy looking brood in all stages. But they started stinging me, which is unusual for them. I could see very little open stores, so maybe the smoke scented bees had no nectar to soothe them. As there was a chance of neighbours getting stung if they were in a stroppy mood, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and closed up, leaving the spare kit on top for another try when the weather has been better for a while.
It was then that the rain started and I sheltered in my polytunnel. It eased so I came out and planted a few peas. It was then that I noticed some ominous clouds heading my way and soon there were mightly blasts of thunder all around! Maybe that was the cause of their unusual mood.