Jump to content
Sue

Agressive bees

Recommended Posts

Hi folks I have a hive which has been a a very calm hive  to manage who have recently become quite stroppy.

They will follow me 30 metres when I leave the hive and they are harassing my normally tolerant and wonderful neighbour . I'm in an urban area so this is a problem for me 

Any suggestions please ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Sue said:

Hi folks I have a hive which has been a a very calm hive  to manage who have recently become quite stroppy.

They will follow me 30 metres when I leave the hive and they are harassing my normally tolerant and wonderful neighbour . I'm in an urban area so this is a problem for me 

Any suggestions please ?

 

As the flow is likely to have ended you'll have a plenty of older, foraging bees with not a-lot to do, so they are more likely to be at home, and be grumpy.  It's like a forced retirement...what to do.  If you were to feed them a bit of syrup regularly this may take the edge off them.  All my hives are way grumpier now than when the flow was on.

 

Another scenario is that there have other bees from other hives trying to get into their hive or into boxes to get at any stored nectar or honey or syrup.  I notice in particular the corners of the lids with bees looking for a way in, and so the bees in your hive are on alert to this robbing and go on the attack.   So make sure the hive is bee-proof.

 

Or they could be feeding on a plant of some sort that has made them testy.

 

Another scenario is that the Queen has passed on, and they have a VQ in the hive, they usually become extra vigilant then.

 

It doesn't sound like Queen genetics is causing it, if it has just started, but if it continues for too long getting a new Q may help.

 

 

 

  • Agree 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sAgree with Craig this is seasonal.

 

But, there are extra aggressive bees, and this can be dealt with by killing the queen and replacing it with a quality queen who will produce gentle bees.

 

As an interesting aside, NZ used to have super aggressive bees called AMM's that were originally brought here by the early English settlers. These were later replaced by the more gentle Italians but AMM's produced more drones and continued to be a problem in wild hives until they were wiped out when varroa arrived. 

 

But i think some of their genetics still live on, as seen in the occasional hive. Just a few days ago I arrived at a site and before even starting work noticed bees pouring out of one particular hive and swarming all over me i got multiple stings before I could even dive into some bush and try to hide. Waited a couple of minutes then made a dash for the truck, followed by multiple enraged bees. Definately reminiscent of the AMM's we used to have, way more viscious than any Italian Carniolan hybrid.

 

Decided I just didn't want this genetics in my yard so went through the hive (while being stung constantly), found the queen and even she was a runny, nasty little thing, and killed it. Noticed the hive was packed with drones, another AMM characteristic. Didn't have a new queen on me, and didn't want them to raise another queen from their own brood. So removed every stitch of brood from the hive and distributed it to another hive, which i have marked to check later just to check they did not raise a queen from the brood I gave them. I gave the aggressive hive some eggs from a nice quiet hive for them to make a new queen from. Hoping that will eventually be problem solved, but that was the nastyest hive I have seen in years and it will now either requeen and be a nice hive, or, not requeen and die. Either option being OK with me.

 

Anyhow Sue, my view, don't tolerate aggressive bees, if they are going to make your life difficult, deal to them.

Edited by Alastair
  • Like 4
  • Agree 3
  • Good Info 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a stroppy hive .

But I have made it that way .

I have been using HD nucs with the queen excluder to make more queens .

They sit on top of the hive . Its like a cloak board .

So the hive  and the nucs  have  been opened a lot.

I think they are just pissed off and want to be left alone .

It was a nice quiet hive once .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve noticed a correlation with time of day and what I’m doing. Slowly going through honey boxes mid afternoon on a hot day gets the robbing started. Once that’s underway, opening up more hives and taking my sweet time gets them really riled up.

 

Working fast, early in the day, not messing about with honey and using the right amount of smoke seems to sort it out. I hate just jamming the boxes on and killing bees, but going slow creates a beard of robbers and a load more dead bees.

 

What do commercials do at this time of year? The robbing must be a real pain.

  • Like 1
  • Agree 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree cBank although I have not identified robbing occurring yet, I'm probably too new to recognise it.  How on earth do the commercials get through all those hives!  The heat, the sweat in my eyes.  Today my smoker would not go.   It either won't go or goes so well that I don't want to extinguish it.  My bees are so understanding... I feel that I could easily work the calm hive without a suit one day.  They never even seem to notice me

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Paul Beer said:

I agree cBank although I have not identified robbing occurring yet, I'm probably too new to recognise it.  How on earth do the commercials get through all those hives!  The heat, the sweat in my eyes.  Today my smoker would not go.   It either won't go or goes so well that I don't want to extinguish it.  My bees are so understanding... I feel that I could easily work the calm hive without a suit one day.  They never even seem to notice me

They are trying to give you a false sense of security, but as soon as you try it you will realise those little furry gentle bees had an agenda. 

  • Haha 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

16 minutes ago, Paul Beer said:

I agree cBank although I have not identified robbing occurring yet, I'm probably too new to recognise it.  How on earth do the commercials get through all those hives!  The heat, the sweat in my eyes.  Today my smoker would not go.   It either won't go or goes so well that I don't want to extinguish it.  My bees are so understanding... I feel that I could easily work the calm hive without a suit one day.  They never even seem to notice me

 

I notice robbers as they sound different, move more like wasps (edgy and quickly) and often look different to my dark mongrels. You will see them brawling in pairs, rolling on the ground.

 

I too have no idea how commercials do it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, cBank said:

What do commercials do at this time of year? The robbing must be a real pain.

 

Having worked for several different commercial beekeepers i have observed several different methods. One is to allow robbing but suit up gloves and all and just work in a cloud of enraged bees. Other than that it's about keeping honey covered and working fast. 

 

Todays method, and I had a hobbyist with me for a nosey and to help, we put the honey boxes on the hive lid and put the mat on top to cover, so the boxes were bee proof. Any scraping was done into the hive feeder so no honey lying around on the grass. Inspect brood nest for AFB, put on escape boards then put honey boxes back on and close the hives. Worked just about long enough to get each site done without undue robbing.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, good tips.

If memory serves, you are out West Auckland way. It always seems 10 degrees warmer out there, with nice black sand to cool off on. Best beaches in the world I think, but I leave feeling burnt and blasted on a cool day, let alone a hot one.

 

Edited by cBank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live on the east coast but got some bees on the west coast. Got some great friends there who have showed me around some beaches and other sites. As you say, awesome place. 🙂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everybody the queen is still in the hive ,I'll reduce the entrance down some more and feed them and see how that goes .Even their sting is more viscious my stings have  erupted in red blister swhich they have never done before .Maybe having dined on something nasty is the answer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got a couple that turned into pimple type things. Hurt like hell and really drilled in. A few days later the hive was much more relaxed - I went through the scratch one first on the next round.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aggression is normally genetic but the level of aggression shown does depend on things like temperature and humidity along with honey flow and how often you annoy them. I have however seen bees that were totally out of character for unknown reasons and I strongly suspect that in the some cases they were affected by spraying on a neighbouring vineyard. These bees were like African killer bees and yet the visit before and the visit after they were perfectly docile like normal. Some nectar sources do rile bees up a little bit too

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

great suggestions and advice above which i agree with completely.

One thing that i have noticed reduce aggression in a fairly full hive is extracting a box of honey and under-supering the box of wets. No idea why that happened, nor if it was just coincidence, but if there's still a flow and robbing isn't an issue then it could be worth a shot.

 

22 hours ago, cBank said:

Slowly going through honey boxes mid afternoon on a hot day gets the robbing started. Once that’s underway, opening up more hives and taking my sweet time gets them really riled up.

 

Working fast, early in the day, not messing about with honey and using the right amount of smoke seems to sort it out. I hate just jamming the boxes on and killing bees, but going slow creates a beard of robbers and a load more dead bees.

 

What do commercials do at this time of year? The robbing must be a real pain.

you must do this already, but just in case, if you're going more than one box deep then you're covering the boxes off the stack with a hive mat while you're going through the open hive right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yesterday i was putting in strips in a bush site. theres an extreme fire risk so i was quietly slipping though without a smoker. First 10 or so were fine, i just went through slow, methodical and calm.

 

11th was ok when i cracked it but when the first strip touched a frame the hive just exploded! my view was immediately reduced to a mass of wriggling stingers poking through my visor.

 

At the time my phone was in my top pocket playing an audiobook. I dropped it by the hive along with everything else when i cut and run (whilst repeatedly punching myself in the face at a few bees that somehow got in my hood).

 

later i managed to get close enough to retrieve my phone (still talking away to itself) and scraped off 8 stingers off its fabric cover.

 

Maybe my pocket filled up with bees before i legged it, but i prefer to think that because my phone was warm, talking and a slow runner they killed it:-)

  • Confused 1
  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a backyard keeper, this is my biggest worry. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of the nastiest hives I have are when you leave one or two at a site and take the rest during a day time move.  All those extra foraging bees flood into the hives that are left.  It can make for some nasty bees.

 

I don't think you're really a beekeeper until you've had to hoof it for the nearest scrub or into the vehicle with them hanging off you every which way they can.  Even in the vehicle they're still at you.  One sting at a time is always ok you can get the stinger out, but multiple stings you cant get to each stinger quick enough and they just keep pumping the bad stuff in.  

  • Like 2
  • Agree 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yikes.

 

A resting heart rate of 120 at night when trying to sleep a few hours later is the measure of a good dose for me.  

 

  • Like 1
  • Confused 1
  • Sad 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/02/2019 at 2:13 PM, Sue said:

Hi folks I have a hive which has been a a very calm hive  to manage who have recently become quite stroppy.

They will follow me 30 metres when I leave the hive and they are harassing my normally tolerant and wonderful neighbour . I'm in an urban area so this is a problem for me 

Any suggestions please ?

HI

Just an idea that others may not have picked up on. Is this a hive that you started from a nuc this season? Nucs can be very relaxed and show their true colours when they have their numbers up. I had a nuc that was pretty good, but after they have been upgraded to a full box for a couple of weeks turned nasty. Pouring out from underneath the hivemat when I cracked it open. This is in spring during a flow as well. I even had a dozen following me across the paddocks back to the house. I pinched the queen and replaced her. As soon as the new queens daughters started hatching they calmed right down. 6 weeks later I was no longer scared to have a look.

If you have a similar scenario it may not be due to the flow drying up or other reasons mentioned and just a nasty queen after all.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Working bees without a smoker is a fact of life  in dry conditions .  Excellent genetics  are your first   defence but how you move  and work is also very important  along with  the time of day and honey flow. Weak hives are always quieter than strong hives and poly nukes can often be worked without  veil or smoker. One of the main tricks I use when working  aggressive hives is to just freeze when they initially attack, they will often  calm down within 10 or 15 seconds and often stay that way whereas if you just keep going they just get more wound up. Good beekeepers learn to interpret the bees mood and adjust accordingly. Some people get this very quickly and some never learn which makes life unpleasant for both them and anybody working with them.

  • Like 1
  • Agree 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve noticed this effect but can’t bring myself to stand still when stung - you’re made of strong stuff.

I always back off. However the faster I move the more I’m stung, so I walk away slowly now. Maybe one day I’ll learn to be brave. I’ve certianly learned to notice the signs that it’s about to turn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

mm my angry hive was a swarm. needless to say i wont be sticking with that queen

 

hehe my zen like calm goes out the window when i get bees inside my hood. I find myself teleported a fair distance and feeling like I've been slapped about the head a lot.

 

 

  • Haha 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When working commercially I am fully toged up including gloves so staying still for aggressive hives is more for the bees benefit than mine.

  • Agree 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...