Today I opened hives by myself for the first time in three months! I have been incapacitated with a broken leg. The plaster is off now and I am able to drive, but it is still painful and keeps swelling. I walk with a stick to keep weight off it as much as possible.
I daren’t risk opening National hives, lifting heavy supers and twisting around to lower them to beside the hive. Fortunately I have a couple of top bar hives which I can open easily as the top bars are at about waist height.
The first one is at Ourganics, a permacultural holding at Litton Cheney. It is of my preferred design: a half cylinder with the top bars forming the diameter of 17″ to allow bars to be transferred to National equipment, for example to make a nucleus. The entrance is at the southern end and is the shape of a smiling mouth.
Bees were flying well and bringing in lots of orange pollen. I gave the entrance a spray of liquid smoke then struggled to zip up the veil of my tunic. I didn’t manage it and so was at risk, but carried on anyway.
It appears as if the brood nest had once extended to approaching 20 bars as the comb had stores at the top but with a vacant oval section beneath, but the brood nest must now be reducing as the first brood I found was 10 bars back. It looked healthy enough so I didn’t examine more than a few.
I got my first bee sting for months! I had been a little worried as I was stung by wasps a few days ago and am still swollen. This is one of the unwanted side effects of having to put your contact details on honey jars! Fortunately the bee’s sting caused no reaction and within minutes I had forgotten on which finger I’d been stung.
The other tbh is in a cider orchard at Berwick Manor, a couple of miles up the road. I was given this one and it is the trapezoidal shape which makes the combs larger, heavier and more awkward. Not as many bars were drawn and occupied as in the first hive but the brood looked healthy and I saw the queen, whom I had marked last time.
This hive too had lots of orange pollen going in. I don’t know what it is and I didn’t notice any obvious sources nearby.