Different colonies can have different temperaments making some a pleasure to work with and others a pain. BLT and her workers went into winter being touchy and sensitive and have come through to spring no different. It's not that they have stung me, just that the slightest jolt of a frame and they rise up in a big angry buzzzzzzzzzz flying around me, all over the metal hive tool I use to help me lift frames out. They're not a chilled bunch at all.
So I've done some thinking and talking to other beekeepers and apparently BLT isn't the only one to be feisty. One of my beekeeper friends says that all 9 of his hives, which were perfectly pleasant last year, are sensitive and jumpy too at the moment. He thinks it's because the early warm spring means they've got big early and are potentially too big for the forage available until the chestnut, blackberry etc come into flower to help feed large colonies. Size isn't BLT's issue though - they're building up, but not bursting at the seams, there are frames in the hive they're not using yet. I think it's genetics, she's from mixed London stock so no selective breeding for the best characteristics - just what's available!
I've decided to learn from my mistakes last year, and so I'm taking decisive steps. I've ordered a new queen from a breeder who is known for nice tempered and prolific bees. My new queen should arrive at the end of May and all being well, she'll lay her eggs and have pleasant daughters that are a joy to work with. Until then it's me and feisty BLT having 'fun' every week as I check them to make sure they're not about to swarm...