We are often asked about stings - do we ever get stung and does it hurt? The simple answer is that if you keep bees you will get stung at some point, so yes, we get stung every now and again (usually I am stung when I am not actually working with the bees, I'm just doing something like hanging out the washing!) . Yes, it hurts, but not too much and not for very long. We wear tried-and-tested suits that keep out 99.9% of stings, so most of our stings are received when we're not wearing all the protective clothing. Given that we are often surrounded by up to 30,000 bees at any one time, one or two stings isn't too bad!
On the whole our bees are fairly docile and good-tempered, but every now and again they turn a little more defensive than usual. This can be if we are stealing their honey, or if the weather is turning stormy, or if they are just fed-up of being bothered by us once again....this is what happened with one of our colonies last week. They were especially grumpy and let us know that they weren't overjoyed to see us - the picture above shows just some of the stings that Kevin received on the edge of his veil. Thankfully none of them got through the mesh and he was fine, but it was definitely a case of 'suffering the stings and arrows of outrageous fortune' (apologies to William Shakespeare!). Bees don't sting lightly - it's a big decision for them as they lose part of their abdomen when they sting, which means they die. It's always sad to see this many stings in our suits or gloves because it means that number of bees have died. With this colony we realised that they were not in the mood and so we beat a hasty retreat, thereby saving us and them!