There is a saying among beekeepers that you are not a proper beekeeper until you have been stung. On that basis I have just passed my apprenticeship. Last night I showed Hilary my hive and stupidly removed the top of it to show her the bees within. Neither of us was wearing protective clothing as in the past my bees have been so well behaved, they have left me well alone. However, on this occasion two bees immediately launched into the air and one stung me within 2 seconds. The other tried to sting Hilary. When bees sting they give off a pheromone to tell the other bees to attack too, so I rapidly replaced the roof of the hive and we beat a hasty retreat with an angry bee in pursuit.
I confess I was surprised by how much the sting hurt, not having been stung since I was a child. My arm is still swollen and sore the following day. However, I have fared better than my aggressor. Unfortunately, when a bee stings, she dies shortly afterwards, so I have lost one. It shows how altruistic bees are – they will willingly give up their lives for the sake of the colony. I will have to learn the lesson for the future.
Otherwise my bees are going well. Queen Michelle does not seem to have come to any harm after my last inspection, as she is still as fecund as ever. To cope with her prodigious rate of egg laying I have added another brood chamber. The colony is now expanding very rapidly and thus I have also added another box for the collection of the honey. The bees are very busy indeed!