My name is Andrew and I have been an amateur beekeeper for some 20 years on and off. Last few years have not been very active as one of my sons has showed up with a major allergic reaction to a sting so I had to move out my four hives from my back yard on the lower North Shore of Sydney. In addition I had lost at least 5 colonies to the dreaded Small Hive Beetle so only now trying to rebuild. I am building up some colonies to move them to the Southern Highlands - we'll see how they fair there. Sydney has proven to be very productive some seasons.
Anyway, I look forward to reading other members experiences and hopefully I can share some interesting ones with you.
Here is one: recently I was called to collect a swarm located on a tree just outside the back porch of a house almost above a pool. It was a nice day and swarms, as we know,are always very docile, I went in a short sleeve shirt and had my bee hat just in case. On inspecting the swarm ( quite large) and site I thought it would be quite simple - I set up a nuc hive on the ground under the swarm and very conveniently the owner of the house had a leaf scoop for his pool with a long telescopic handle. Well it would be just a matter of scooping them up and transferring into the Nuc. I put on my hat and proceeded to pull them down. Because of the size it was going to be a two attempt action. First scoop gathered about half of the swarm and I transferred them onto the frames in the box and then hell broke lose.........they attacked me in the most ferocious manner I have ever experienced. Within seconds I had them all over my arms, getting in under my veil and stinging where they could. I could not escape into the house as I would have endangered the hosts. I managed to getaway into the garage and slowly get the bees off me. My arms were covered in stings and in several places already blood blisters! However I still had to finish the job! The owner of the house suggested he lend me a long sleeve parka and some nice long garden gloves. I went out again appropriately dressed and took the second bite at the cherry, transferred them into the box and left them to settle down. I collected the box that evening thinking that the first thing I'll do is change the queen of this vicious strain.
After a week when I was making my first inspection, I was prepared for another onslaught but to my surprise they were as gentle as kittens!! Obviously they are quite temperamental girls!!!
PS I was not 100% health wise when I collected that swarm and after sharing this experience with some friends some interesting theories evolve. Firstly, I got well very quickly after the attack and my doctor friends attribute it to sudden increased jolt of the body's immune system caused by bee stings. Secondly, perhaps the bees knew I was not well and wanted to assist in getting me healthy!!
Another friend whom I told about the experience said that when he was a child in Russia, bees stings were actually used for some ailments by holding them against a person's neck and forcing them to sting!
Enough of my rambling!