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Thread: Irritated Bees

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Kokomo, In
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    359

    Default Irritated Bees

    Today, I checked on my bees. Some of them were irritated. Though I smoked, several came flying out of the hive with, I'm sure, some sort of vengence in mind for my bothering them. I should note here that the same thing happened two weeks ago.

    The bees are Italian/Buckfast. My inital package was Italian. I chose to requeen, after the old girl got loose, with a Buckfast queen. I liked the Buckfast qualities.

    Today, I didn't inspect as much as I would have liked, as they were really aggitated. Two stung me and the rest that were coming at me kept hitting me as if to drive me off. There were maybe 15 or so that were ticked enough to come at me. The rest clung to the frames, but the noise level let me know they were ticked, too.

    What I did see, in both deeps, was a good brood pattern on most frames, with honey on the outer edges. This girl is a layer! One of the traits I liked.

    In the upper, they have 5 frames almost fully drawn, but only a very small portion of the honey capped.

    Another bit of info, it's been in the 80's and 90's here, for the past few weeks. The girls have been hanging out, on the front porch. The area they are in shades them during the hottest part of the day, but they do get sun from about 5 o'clock on.

    I know the Italians and Buckfasts are known for their gentleness. So, what do you think I'm doing wrong?

    Could they be too hot?

    Could they be too crowded? I don't have another deep, but I do have a honey super. Should I put that on?

    Any and all help you folks can offer will be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
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    516

    Default

    I know the Italians and Buckfasts are known for their gentleness. So, what do you think I'm doing wrong?
    Maybe nothing. It may just be their genetics. Even though they are, as a race, known for gentleness there is some variability with that race.

    It could be that your area's nectar flow has stopped. If that is the case they tend to be more cranky during that time. You could try feeding them prior to an inspection next time and see if that helps.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pocahontas County, West Virginia, USA
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    Default

    My understanding is that the US Buckfasts are known to be hot and the European Buckfasts are gentle. There is a theory that the main US Buckfast breeding areas are also in known AHB locations and that there may have been some earlier mixing. You are likely not doing anything wrong and the problem is either genetic or a temporary issue. Time will tell. Giving more space will only increase the area that needs cooling and may stress them more if you feel that is the problem. Personally I wouldn't keep US Buckfasts until the hotness trait is bred out of them as there are plenty of good producing gentle strains and hybrids available.
    "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." - P.J. O'Rourke

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Kokomo, In
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    Default

    I appreciate the input. I didn't know the Americanized Buckfasts had hot genetics. I got my queen from R Weaver.

    This evening, I did add syrup and ventilated the hive a little by taking out the entrance reducer and propping up the top cover. We'll see if this helps.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
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    575

    Default Re-Queen

    If my bees were hot I would re-queen and hope for gentler stock. I have had good success with New World Carniolans being very gentle and my golden Italians being very gentle. Even so, sometimes you get a tempermental strain and requeening will often "calm them down" a bit. Just my humble opinion. That said, at a bee meeting recently someone remarked, "If you get 10 beekeepers in a room together and ask a question, you may get 11 different answers!" Good luck to you!
    "My child, eat honey, for it is good." (Proverbs 24:13)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Tremonton, Utah, USA
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    Default

    I picked up a buckfast queen from the same place. Mean bees I got rid of her I love Italians

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    Default

    Personally I'd requeen too; hot bees are a hassle to work with and, unless you have a truly remote apiary, a liability. Another possibility is that they're being robbed or predated by a skunk or rock-throwing kids or something. Dearths are good times to explore the dark side of colony gentleness.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Kokomo, In
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    Default

    I really appreciate everyone's input. I had thought about requeening, but wasn't sure if I should. Since I live in town, I am worried that they may take their aggressiveness beyond the hive.

    The fun part will be trying to get in the hive, to find the old girl. I know they won't just let me waltz in and nab her, without a fight.

    Yes, I've heard the comment that 10 beekeepers will give you 11 different answers.

    Today, I will go out and sit by the hive to see what happens. When I first got my package and up until a month ago I've been able to sit near the hive and watch them, with no aggressive behavior. Yesterday, before I put on the syrup and ventilated, I wasn't able to sit long, before a couple came out to send me on my way.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    Default

    Its that time of the year when the flow starts to end. Those lovely bees that could be worked in shorts last month, are not going to agree with that happening now...

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Monie View Post
    I appreciate the input. I didn't know the Americanized Buckfasts had hot genetics. I got my queen from R Weaver.
    It isn't so much the 'Americanized' Buckfast' as its the potential (liklihood) of 'Africanized Buckfast' from areas that are recognized as having a high feral AHB population.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Sparta, Tennessee
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    Default

    The weather has been mighty humid here, which has them a bit irritated as well.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default

    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Concord NH
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    Default

    MB, thank you for your posts and the site you maintain chock full of advice and observations.

    Like this site its an invaluable resource to us new beeks.

    Thanks again!

    -J
    Milk Cows Not Taxpayers

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Kokomo, In
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    Default

    Today, I did as I previously posted. I sat near the hive. One or two came to check me out, then went about their business. I sat until my butt got sore from the cinder block. I then decided to stand right next to the hive, just to see what they'd do. I was there several minutes before a couple came to check me out. Then, they went back to what they were doing. Several minutes later, a few more came out to see what I was doing, decided they didn't like me there, and proceeded to escort me to the other side of the fence.

    What is different today from yesterday:
    1.It's much cooler, with a slight breeze, and low humidity.

    2. They've taken some of the syrup that I placed on the hive yesterday.

  15. #15

    Default

    I have a hive that is aggressive also. I have wonderered about the likeyhood of AFB in our area, even though these bees aren't said to be this far nortrh. Does anyone know where I can get them tested for that or for those genetics?
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Ennis, TX USA
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    Default

    I have the BWeaver "All Stars" same area as RWeaver and Italian's from GA. My All Stars are hotter than my Italians. I can work my Italians in shorts, short sleeve shirt, no gloves, and a viel on. Haven't been stung yet. I can't do that with the All Stars. Learned that the hard way. Some days the All Stars are just fine and some days 4-5 up to 10 bees will come out with an attitude. But I can always stand/sit infront of the hive and watch and never have a problem with them. But I guess there called "All Stars" for a reason. They out work my Italians 10 fold. But I think I will just stick with the Italians from now on, and try a couple of other breeds next year. Just to play it safe.

    And I have read alot that the Buckfast are Hot or Hotter than your average. And hotter than the "All Stars". Or it could be where you get them. I don't think M Bush will buy from the Weavers anymore because of the hotness.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
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    Default

    Monie,
    I'm just south of you a ways in Indianapolis. My bee's are normally very gently but the past week or so they have been really intolerant. I think they are irritable because of the lack of a flow right now, plus this weather has been hot and humid with thunderstorms popping up around the central portion of the state almost every day. It looks to me like my bee's are hanging around the hive a lot with not much to do right now...other than guard the hive. I wouldn't worry about it. Just my opinion.
    Barry

  18. #18
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    Feb 2008
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    Default

    Thanks for the input, Barry.

    I'd really hate to requeen if I don't have to. I'll wait to see what happens before I make that decision. What is the latest I should requeen, if that's what I need to do?

    Barry, in your experience, when do you suppose the next flow will be?

    I may check back on the hive in a few weeks. Being new to this, and since I don't know what to look for just by observing the comings and goings, I don't want them to get ahead of me.

    Thanks again, everyone!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Azle Texas USA
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    Default

    I started last year buying swarms from local pest control/beeks here in Ft Worth. Have 7 hives presently I always walk around my hives and will set as close as 20" away. I have never been run away. I will watch for hours. My wife mows and is as close as inches away from the enterances, no problems. If you are having problems watching your hives, I would suggest putting a flag or something that moves in front of the hive so the get use to movement around the enterance.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
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    Default

    As Barry said, it's likely that the bees are just cranky and not "hot" as in having mean genetics. It's not at all uncommon for bees that were very gentle early in the summer to get irritable during the hot, humid "dog days" when there's no flow.

    We usually have a "fall flow" here in Indiana, but in my limited experience it's not very consistent or dependable. It's not unusual to hear one beek talk about a great fall flow while another, 40-to-50 miles away, has nothing. Watch for the goldenrod bloom. If the flow is strong in your area, your hives will smell like sweaty gym socks from 40 yards away.

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