Just got back from work and I thought I'd sit and watch the bees for ten minutes. Whilst watching their contented tooing-and-frowing I suddenly heard what I thought was a bumble bee but to my surprise it was a drone (male bee). It alighted on the landing board and entered the hive unchallenged so I assume it was 'one of mine'. I saw a lot of drones from this hive last year but that was much later in the season around late August. I never noticed them this early last year but maybe I wasn't entirely sure what I was seeing/hearing then.
Having seen capped drone brood, when I had a quick checked during the very warm weather a few weeks ago, I knew that it wouldn't be long before they were flying; but it still came as a surprise. During that previous check I also slotted in two extra top bars between bars of brood, in order to get new comb with eggs in, ready to make a split (artificial swarm) in the near future. I thought that the cold weather of the last week might have put the split on hold but it is very sunny today so it might still be possible this coming weekend - only time and the vagaries of the weather will tell.
I was also quite glad, although my heart rate did suffer, that whilst sitting about four feet from the hive I 'faced down' a very inquisitive guard bee. I didn't put any protective gear on as I only intended to stop for a few minutes but my anxiety was high given my last sting (see below). But I 'toughed-it-out' by keeping very calm and still until eventually in decided that I wasn't a bear looking for a meal and flew off. I also tried to make sure I was breathing in when it came right up to my face as I know they don't like exhaled carbon dioxide. How brave!