We spent a couple of hours going through three of the hives but it was time well spent, we got a lot done and we were quite pleased with ourselves. We noticed that it is easier to do the work during the afternoon when a lot of the bees are away and the light is better. Usually P. works on the hives in the late evening as they are supposed to be more docile.
In hive #3 we found the queen and isolated her in the bottom box where there are five langstroth frames and five farrar frames. In other words... it's a bit messy. We'll fix this before the autumn, probably add five more langstroth frames if we can. We also re-ordered the frames above the queen so that the fuller frames are right at the top and the ones that are not yet completely sealed with wax are lower down.
In hive #4 we removed eight farrar frames that were completely sealed with wax.
In hive #2 we found a new queen and isolated her in the two bottom boxes of farrar frames. We also re-ordered the higher boxes and removed five more honey-filled farrar frames.
In the process Peter was stung on the nose quite badly and he has had typical allergic symptoms: runny nose, itchy eyes. He was wearing his full outfit but the bee stung him through the mesh - partly my fault as I was holding the smoker but the smoker just doesn't seem to work very well (or I don't have the knack, more likely).