The thing is, despite what Ed says, bees don't act like that. That cartoon thing of enraged bees following you around and stinging random people out of sheer spite. It just doesn't happen. Except, yesterday, when it did.
The exception is when bees are starving, sometimes they swarm and then they're really aggressive. It's very very rare - the Uber Bee Guru who taught the course I attended in May said that he had only seen it twice in his long beekeeping career. But consider the facts:
- Very agressive behaviour of previously mild-mannered bees
- Smoking had no effect (smoking makes bees fill their stomachs with honey in preparation to escape from a forest fire. Starvation swarms aren't calmed by smoking because they have no honey to feed on)
- It has been very poor foraging for months so we know honey stores are low
- The hive we opened did have honey stores but they could have robbed that from the hive next door
- So maybe it was the hive we didn't open that sent a starvation swarm
They still need to go, to fend off lawsuits from the neighbours, the GPO, and divorce proceedings from Ed who is insisting he knew it would end up like this ("But no-one could have predicted this, it's a freak occurrence", "Well I predicted it", "Oh yes, your in-depth knowledge of bees gained from watching Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons is better than my measly knowledge gained from going on a course, reading lots of books, attending hive meetings at my local beekeepers' association...", "Well, it does, yes, because I predicted this and you didn't..." ad infinitum).
I feel better thinking there's an explanation for their behaviour other than they're just nasty evil bees who hate me and my neighbours.
But still, I have a confession. I'm now a bit scared of my bees.