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Apihappy

Advice on aggressive hives please

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Hi, I helped out a friend down the road with a swarms split yesterday. He has three and a half hives now. The hive we were working on has jet black bees and they were attacking us like wasps. At one point my veil was completely obscured by bees. Inevitably we got a few stings and my mate ended up at the doctors getting drugs and was put under observation for the afternoon. They have advised that the next one could be the big one and perhaps to look for a new hobby. 

 

What is is the best plan for his apiary? It obviously has to be moved but the bees are awful. There are three double brood boxes with a couple or supers each so not easy to move.

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Requeen the aggressive hive/s with a good calm queen.

it will take a month until you get a calmer hive to work with as the old population dies off and is replaced by bees from the new queen.

 

as for moving the hives. Strapped together with ratchet straps and move at night or early morning while bees are home and it is cooler. They sound like big colonies so don’t block them in with a solid medium, better to staple some shade cloth over the entrance so air can still get in and out. You’ll need a helper or two to lift the hives on to a Ute or trailer. Move them a couple kms away minimum.

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If it has to be moved cos he cannot risk one more sting, then yes, move it.

 

But if the reason is purely that the bees are aggressive, then as per Dansar, that can be solved. Requeen and a couple months from now you can have nice docile hives.

 

Just, be careful who you buy the queens from, there is some rubbish being sold, probably just as bad as what you have. Contact a decent breeder such as say, frazzledfozzel on this forum, and tell them the big thing you are looking for is bees that are docile. Don't buy from someone who is selling hybrids, which essentially means they are selling mutts and their queens will be variable and of unpredictable quality and behaviour.

Edited by Alastair
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Thank you for the replies. I have never experienced such aggressive bees. I would be concerned that the hive might reject a new queen. Is the procedure any different to requeening for a failing hive?

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15 minutes ago, Apihappy said:

Thank you for the replies. I have never experienced such aggressive bees. I would be concerned that the hive might reject a new queen. Is the procedure any different to requeening for a failing hive?

Squash queen .

Put new queen in cage, entrance and candy end facing up , and in the centre of the brood , with the side vents exposed so the bees can access the queen pheromone . 

Inspect after three days to make sure she’s released . 

Edited by M4tt
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Hi

 

If you want agressive bees then go to Africa.  Make sure its the bees that are agressive not some smell you are carrying with you. Not been eating bananas or useing some aftershave, have you? washed your bee suite in a fancy smelling washing powder?

 

Anyway if you are using the Langstroth patented open fronted bottom entrance then the guard bees will be at the front of the entrance.  Try the "Upstairs Downstairs" hive entrance where the guard bees are inside the hive, in the "intrance" and less of them, and they don't need to come out.  check out www.BeeSpace.xyz.  It solves lots of problems and is easy to retrofit.

Edited by Norm
typo
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3 hours ago, Norm said:

Hi

 

If you want agressive bees then go to Africa.  Make sure its the bees that are agressive not some smell you are carrying with you. Not been eating bananas or useing some aftershave, have you? washed your bee suite in a fancy smelling washing powder?

 

Anyway if you are using the Langstroth patented open fronted bottom entrance then the guard bees will be at the front of the entrance.  Try the "Upstairs Downstairs" hive entrance where the guard bees are inside the hive, in the "intrance" and less of them, and they don't need to come out.  check out www.BeeSpace.xyz.  It solves lots of problems and is easy to retrofit.

I don’t know what to make of this post .

 

Is it an ad ? 

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In the first few years after varoa most bees in the country were almost perfect with all the feral hives gone. Now we have lots of idiots breeding nasty mongrel hives with no selection for temperament. It's not 50 years of breeding down the gurgler but sometimes it feels like it. I have a hobbyist friend who brought two hives and although they look pretty good they are just so aggressive. I would never breed from a hive that I couldn't work without a veil. There is no benefit to keeping aggressive bees. They are not more disease resistant or higher produces or even more wasp tolerant. All these traits can be found in well bred quiet bees.

Bees on a honey flow tend to be quieter, if you pick the right day you will find a lot easier.

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@john berry

 I do not know anyone here who has aggressive hives , or ever mentions it .

I had one once and requeened her .

Maybe its a north island thing .

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I think these bees came from Gt Barrier island and after reading up on bee species, they are possibly Italian x German or apis melifera melifera, apparently both species are pretty chill but together, 💥. John Berry neatly covers the question I came up with ie are such dastardly insects useful elsewhere, the answer being, yes Germany.

 

ive got a nice new carnolian queen lined up and I'm going to shift the hive to lose the grumpy old ######s as Alister suggests. Thanks again.

 

Edited by Apihappy
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The only thing special about black European honeybees is how especially vicious they are. 

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Awesome post Jerry an interesting read.

 

Here, we are fortunate we do not have africanised bees, and for practical purposes we only have 3 strains, being Italian, carniolan, and AMM, although AMM's are virtually extinct but there is a little of their genetics still show in the odd hive, usually evidenced by extra aggression, and "chasing", for up to a long distance from the hive.

 

All those strains will readily accept queens from one of the other strains so not too much issues there. The problem mostly arises when the bees are especially wound up, either by the beekeeper, or because of robbing or a few other circumstances, if the bees are super aggro they are also more likely to reject a queen.

 

The method you describe is excellent, and the reading I have done indicates that africanised bees are more likely to reject a queen of a different race so a method like yours is very useful.

 

A few years back I saw an excellent youtube video of a guy requeening an africanised hive, using a slight twist on your method. He did not think the hive would accept a caged queen. Most of his bees were good but he had one hive had gone africanised. He went through it and found and killed the queen, he was well kitted up and beeproof because the bees were furious. He then closed the hive, and 8 days (i think) later went through it again, shook the bees from each brood comb and carefully examined it for queen cells and killed them all. He then put in a comb with eggs from a gentle hive.

 

Unfortunately he didn't do a follow up video to show the result but I would assume  it worked out for him. He didn't kill the drone brood but that is certainly a good idea to eliminate them if they are a super nasty strain.

Edited by Alastair
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I am trying to keep the AMM breed alive.I have a pure Amm which mated pure I think.I worked it all last season with no gloves veil or smoke and no stings at all so in my opinion bees that are mongrels will be defensive.

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Alastair,  At a local bee club meeting, the state apiculturiist Eric Mussen said that an italian queen mating with 3/8  (e.g. 6 in 16) africanized drones produced a colony that is bad tempered but workable. More than 3/8 and the colony expressed full-on africanized traits.

When an africanized queen is mated with 100% non-africanized drones the daughter colony still expressed 100% africanized traits.
The same was true for her daughter.

The colony of the granddaughter queen (mated with 100% non-africanized drone) was bad tempered but workable.

So the africanized genes are strongly expressed. 
I've heard the africanized drones are better competers in the DCAs.  (I couldn't give you a scholarly ref for that)

Those are reasons why we don't want any africanized drones in our neighborhood.
So it seems reasonable to drone cull on the mere suspicion of a problem. Of course, we can't drone cull from feral colonies. 

 

Transportation is a wonderful thing these days.  But then, Truck trailers and train cars are a good way to transport africanized swarms from warmer more favorable climates into our neighborhood. Our swarm list had a call a couple of years ago to extract a colony from a freight yard in Oakland.  The beek that did it said that colony was just the absolute worst swarm he'd ever had to deal with.  Africanized perhaps

 

The africanized bees tend to be vagabonds. They move on when forage runs out. When they do that in Northern California during the dearth, they probably don't have enough time to accumulate stores for the winter, so they tend to die out.  In non urban areas the dearth is really severe in the fall.

 

I've read reports that the africanized bees took over Puerto Rico, and subsequently lost their aggressiveness.  There must be an interesting story in that.

😊🐝

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Yes PR is a fascinating case. Looks like the island has a dense human population that would not tolerate aggressive bees and killed tham when found, so it ended up some hives survived with specific african genes but not the ones for aggression.

 

Because of the natural disasters in PR, me, I feel it is really necessary to take some of these bees to other countries to preserve the race and further breed them. 

 

https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?341748-gentle-africanized-bees-in-puerto-rico

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I was with you right up to the local bee initiative. Absolutely I believe you should breed from local stock but why not select from your quietest and most productive. Any swarm or cut out has swarmed so there is no way I would breed from them. Interesting idea on the Queen's ovaries not developing properly. It has been absolutely proven that cage Queens should not be taken out of the mating hive to soon but yours is the first time I've seen something explaining why this might be the case.

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From a hobby perspective not selling any honey, but renting some hives: We collect about a dozen swarms per year and deflect the rest on to other BoP club members. The swarms build up in a Nuc apiary for consideration for the following season. We've also bought various queens and cells and bred some queens from our most prolific hives that are a pleasure to work. I have to say that I have not seen any higher risk of swarming from a captured swarm in the subsequent year than any other source of queen. So far as I know we have only accidentally sent out a swarm twice out of 50 hives in last 5 years, collected both of those. I conclude that swarming is only going to happen if the beekeeper screws up, (me/us/them) and the practise of requeening swarms or not breeding from them is a bit more superstitious than fair. That is to say a super good queen that produces a prolific hive that runs out of space isn't the cause of the problem, they're actually the best ones (?). 

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If you have only had 2 swarms issue from 50 hives, over the last 5 years, you are among the most highly skilled 0.01% of beekeepers, or, you were not aware, many beekeepers are not.

 

For those who can remember pre carniolan times, the italians we had then were much less swarmy and swarm control was not that difficult.

 

Enter carniolans, which are a way more swarmy breed, and things changed. Most NZ bees are now mongrelized. However I have noticed the gradual blackening of our bees, and I put this down to swarming and the collection of swarms by beekeepers. Where I am (Auckland), bees have gradually got blacker and blacker. It is now incredibly rare to find a pure looking Italian hive, but there are more and more pure looking carniolan hives, and the rest of the bees are not pure black but heading that way.

 

The most time consuming part of the season is the spring swarm season, where beekeepers must work every available hour attempting to stop bees swarming. Achieve that and you get a good honey drop. Fail and you get a poor honey crop.

 

The introduction and propagation of this swarmy bee type has been a disservice to the industry, in my view.

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Maybe not aware as you say, [don't know], but with all hives in urban areas on small sections, surrounded by at least four neighbours at very close range, there are no secrets :)There is a lot of pressure to pay close attention to (not) swarming and it does take time.

Hobby beekeeping at single hive apiary level is not the same as managing 250 to 350 hives per person.... I mean you only have one hive to look at when you get there.

We might be guilty of giving them too much space at times. Swarm level and skill level is not comparable with all these different variables.

It has to be borne in mind that urban hives don't get a big flow and on permanent apiary sites, they get a year round dribble this avoids a sudden build up going nuclear.

Carni traits seem easy to manage in this environment, are economical over winter and good defenders generally. Being on a permanent site they are in sync with their flow and we are never involved in any stimulatory feeding what so ever. So hive management is quite different. We do feed if they have insufficient stores, but for us, that doesn't happen in urban hives, only rural.

We have had a couple of hotter than normal hives. Those hives have a split removed including queen and I allocate those to more hostile areas where there is a lot of robbing pressure and overstocking on the basis they'll stand up for themselves.. I can then requeen the remainder of the colony to something user friendly for urban work.

 

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John,  Several things prompted a small group of us in the club to write the founding document for the LBI. 
There was the example of the "split-squad" that Cynthia Perry formed in Marin County for the non-treatment beekeepers.

There was the list of Darwinian beekeeping practices that Tom Seeley formulated. 

Lastly it was about genetics. About a year and half ago Walter Sheppard (of Washington State Univ Pullman) showed a genetics graph at a symposium at UC Davis.

Two regions of the graph stood out. One spot, he said, was the east-coast queens, and the other was the west-coast queens, all produced by large scale commercial queen breeders. He also said fewer than 350 mother queens are grafted to produce the millions of queens the industry sells in the US each year. The genetics of the feral bees were scattered randomly over the graph.

Supply houses and clubs distribute 3 pound packages with caged queens from the big suppliers. The breeders send queens in the mail, and sell in bulk to the big operators.

Those commercial genetics, which are mostly optimized for large scale beekeepers who need to push bees in winter to be ready for the early spring almond pollination, are not a particularly good fit for urban beekeepers. (imo)  Until recent pushing by Randy Oliver, those breeders weren't particularly interested in Varroa tolerant/resistant lines. (BTW, the Almond Pollination requires about two million colonies, and only 400K are available from California beekeepers)

Tom Seeley reports that  the feral colony density in his reference forest south-west of Ithica recovered to what it was prior to 1987 when Varroa were introduced into the US, and all those colonies have Varroa.  Feral colonies, bee trees, colonies in attics, building walls are quite common in the bay area; they produce swarms our club members collect. The feral colonies survive on their own over years without being treated for Varroa or other pathogens. Furthermore, they're coping with seasonal variations in forage in our Mediterranean climate.

Our club's swarm hotline handled over 700 calls in the last 10 months. Over 200 of the calls were swarms. Over 150 were cut-outs and bee trees. Our club members bring those colonies to their yards.  Historically a few of our members propagated colonies.

The LBI provides an opportunity for our club members to advance their beekeeping skills by learning to graft queens, and get queens mated. I'm amazed at the energy, enthusiasm, and delight of our most active members this year.

(The LBI is agnostic about treating for Varroa. Some of us believe that eventually the Varroa tolerant/resistant stock we select and propagate will squeeze out the bees that require treatment.  (We haven't treated in our yard since 2011, and our survival rate is consistent with the national average, so I think local bees are just about there))

 

Yup. There is more variability in swarms.  Not all of them make it. Some even swarm themselves into oblivion.

A colony that doesn't swarm at all can't survive on its own. I don't think that trait can be good for bees in the long run.

It's a big tent. Opinions vary on beekeeping practices, goals, attitudes, etc. We all have our own style.

 

Regards

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There's a thing about that. 

 

For years we been hearing how well the "local" bees do. Swarming, guys collecting them, breeding them, etc.

 

With all this success, why is it necessary for the beekeepers to be buying 400,000 packages each year? The maths of it all doesn't quite work for me.

 

When the beekeepers are not buying packages any more, I'll know these "local" bees are living up to the hype.

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