It was a demonstration evening and the Local Association had the happy idea of travelling around, by invitation, to members apiaries to do inspections which hopefully were informative to the gathered members, and useful to the hive owners.
One bonny evening the Hon Sec had fallen ill and I was asked to stand in as demonstrator for the visit. The challenge was to open a colony which reputedly had not been opened in over 15 years. Hmm thought I this might be a tricky one.
In reality it was incredibly simple.
The Hive was a home made National with a floor, brood box, and two supers on, no excluder present but full of bees. Lovely black quiet AMM type bees. I remember removing the roof and crown board and thinking crikey metal ends, as in spacers, and that things might get very tricky and for that matter sticky observing the frame ends coated in reddish propolis. I moved very slowly and whilst a lot of force was required to take off the fist super the propolis acted like a shock absorber and as the super cane free it moved slowly, the propolis making it a slow process.
The first super off revealed the lower one which had been used as a brood, so a one and a half system in play, and it was duly full of eggs and brood in all stages. Removing this super was the same as the first, a slow affair complicated slightly by some of the brood frames from below being well stuck to the frames above, but with some judicious prying with the hive tool, they were eased back down and the super came away sweetly.
The brood combs proper were to be truthful needing changed out entirely with pop holes everywhere, and some very black combs indeed. There were play cups galore and emerged cells from previous seasons swarming very much still in place.
However and this is the critical element of the situation, the bee space had been entirely observed both in the supers and the brood box.
Bees may indeed do nothing invariably but with the one glorious exception to prove that rule. They like their Bee Space thank you.