Over the last month I had heard so many long term beekeepers explain swollen faces and worse by saying they had not intended to open the hive and then been tempted to do so. I vowed to learn from their mistakes.
I have two hives. The first was a healthy 2010 nucleus from a localish beekeeper who said the queen had some Carnolian in her. That hive seemed to fly at reasonably low temperatures and have quite fast spring build up. Hive 2 was obtained from a swarm last year. At one time I thought they flew at a slightly higher minimum temperature.
After a spell of warmish weather when both had been quite active, external observation on dry times in amongst a few light showers had seemed to show that Hive 2 was flying at lower temperatures than Hive 1. On the fourth day of such observations (today) I started to worry. I watched for quite a while – no activity from Hive 1. I located a long branch and reached to bang a few times on the side. I wait. No reaction and I cannot see movement through the entrance. A few more thumps from the branch. I am telling myself that there is no way I should open up without my suit – so why are my feet taking me to the hive and my hands starting to lift the roof?
In a flash, I can see a clump of bees busily crawling across the frames and I also see that the crown board has lifted with the hive roof………..
Roof down and a smart exit – no stings, no followers. Bet you thought this was not going to be such a happy ending. The moral of the tale is that things are never quite as you expect and you ignore your ‘procedures’ at your peril. You may be lucky – but of course each lucky outcome makes you tolerant to risks next time.