Thought I’d start a thread on this topic as we mostly hear of how clever people are when beekeeping but we don’t often here of the disasters or really hard days. Thought I’d start with my own.
We (my wife and I) had ordered some bee packages and an extra queen which arrived on a sunny day (predicted top of 34 degrees Celsius). Having inspected our existing hives that morning we were somewhat tired but decided to get the packages in place that day. After all 34 isn’t too bad.
We arrived at our supplier to collect the packages as the temperature hits 38, no problem, putting a few packages in some hives is easy… So we loaded the car and headed to our first site (middle of suburbia). As we were nearing the site I noticed a few bees coming into the cabin (packages were in the boot/trunk). I pull up and open the boot and cop a face full of bees! They were everywhere, clearly one or more of the packages has split open. We rush to get our suits on and start trying to put the intact packages in to hives as discreetly as possible but it is hard to be discreet when there are thousands of bees flying about the boot of your car looking for their home! At one point my wife saw a car pull up at the top of the driveway stop for 10 seconds (took one look at my wife in her bee suit surrounded by thousands of bees) then reverse back and take off.
As the temperature hits 40 we finally get the first lot of packages into our hives and head off to the second site. All goes well there and at the third site…phew.
We head back with our extra queen to install her in an existing queenless hive, it is almost getting dark now and we have been doing bee stuff all day, we are tired, hungry, exhausted and decide we will just slip the queen cage into the hive (5 second job to tilt box, slot queen on top of frames and close box) it sounded easy. We walk up to the hive (2 x 10F boxes) and I tilt open the boxes and at that exact moment we hear a voice “are you trying to steal our hives?”. It was the neighbours son who had not recognised us. In the 5 to 10 seconds it took to respond the (unsmoked) bees had come out in force and were successfully stinging my wife through the suit, additionally the Qx was propilised in place and with the failing light and my wife’s poor eyesight we couldn’t get the queen in place. After a few more seconds of this we abandoned what in hindsight was a poorly conceived plan. Walking away from the hive back to the car (with bees still stinging my wife through the suit) our other neighbours decide that it is an excellent time to jump in the car and go for a drive somewhere. Not wanting to appear distressed we happily smile and wave…no problem here!!! Luckily they stayed in the car waved back and just drove off.
As we get home for the day and sit down my wife looks to me and says…If that isn’t our worst day beekeeping, I’m giving up".