For some reason the Vinehall bees have a bad reputation. That may have to do with the fact that each one of the 40,000 or so in the colony sports a sting and that they show their displeasure at being disturbed by strimmers and other noisome machinery by coming out in force but, as we found out on Thursday, this reputation is not deserved.

As the Headmaster and Dr K discovered on opening the hive for the first time in ages (and it did feel very much like opening an ancient Egyptian tomb) the bees are delightfully calm and, as you’d expect from bees, well, just busy. And that’s quite a feat as their hive is looking rather messy: the comb is old and tired and the frames are split in places. If we had to live in similar substandard quarters, I am sure we would be complaining a lot more.

The highlight of the inspection was that we saw the queen: a polished hazelnut-brown beauty. It is always such a thrill to see her bustling through the colony with her attendant train.

Next steps will be to manage the bees through the summer so we can harvest some honey. A new brood box and frames are top priority to promote hygiene and prevent disease. However, it was an enthralling start and hopefully we will be hearing much more from the bees as the year unfolds.

Dr K