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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Clark, Mo, USA
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    24

    Default agressive behavior

    I'm a new beekeeper and have started some queenrearing. My best colony started off friendly and exploded in population. They also made enough honey to be set for the winter. There was a cold snap for a few days and then the weather turned warm again. i went through all my colonies for the last inspection for the year and when it came to that colony they were very angry at me. This same queen had this same problem last year and i replaced her. I put her in a nuc as a backup if the new queen didn't workout and the temper of the nuc cooled off. They exploded in population and grew to there present full colony strength. Then the agressive behavior started again. Is it possible to use the genetics and rear queens from this queen and see if the next generation is agressive or is that a waste of time. It's a shame to kill my best laying queen, but it's no fun getting attacked the whole time I'm trying to inspect. Any help is appreciated.
    Jordan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    Inspections late in the year are often met with some aggression and anger. I've never replaced a queen for that if they've been "normal" the rest of the year. Think about it, they have lots of unemployed bees and plenty of stores and brood to guard. I would be mean too!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
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    1,410

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    This time of year its expected to have tempermental bees, they have to protect what is going to get them through the winter and thats the honey they have stored. If that hive is very productive and fairly gentle the rest of the year, I would keep them. Now, if it is a strong flow and they come at you in droves and chase you for two miles, then its time to requeen, but bees are bees and they will protect the hive when needed, you aint gonna breed that out of them.

    Another thing is when a hive is small they are generally not as aggressive as a pumped up hive, and probably mainly because they dont have the resources to have lots of guard bees, unlike a booming hive. I havnt had a hive that i would consider overly aggressive yet, if I have one that completely empties out at me or covers my veil even though I have walked a ways away, then I will requeen or kill it.

    Bees are Bees!!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    3,033

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    Yeah, never evaluate hive temper this late in the year.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Clark, Mo, USA
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    I was going to wait till spring and see what happens. They do cover me pretty good and bombard my veil and suit. I walked away several times and was followed about 100 yards. It's extremely intimidating. I'll see what happens. I was wanting to use this queen to grow some queens but i don't want more mean bees. Thanks for the suggestions
    Jordan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Spicewood, Texas, USA
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    Same here. It is not my imagination that the girls are more defensive lately. They used to pretty much ignore me when I would open the hive, but now they make quite a point of coming out to say "hello."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Belews Creek, NC, USA
    Posts
    338

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    Did you tell your girls you may have to re-distribute their wealth? That seems to upset people quite a bit.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,767

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    I agree with the other comments posted. If I'm reading your situation correctly, you've had this same queen in your yard for two years and each time her colony reaches large populations they become overly aggressive. Is this the case? If so, is it the same time of year that you're seeing this aggression (late summer/early fall)? Also, I assume that you're properly using smoke, right? For some bees, smoke makes a huge difference, particularly late in the season. As mentioned, if you see excessive aggression during the main nectar flow it is much more obvious how to proceed.

    At this point in the season I would not suggest making any changes. If they showed aggression throughout the year, and based upon the language you've used, like "extremely intimidating", I feel that you should consider replacing this queen next spring. Early on in my beekeeping experiences, I had some overly aggressive bees - NOT fun. If you're just a hobbyist, then beekeeping should be fun.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Panama City, Florida, USA
    Posts
    593

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    I don't know your experience or situation but: a lot of beginning keepers feel large colonies become overly defensive. Actually a lot of times it is simply a matter of numbers. A larger colony has proportional larger number of defensive bees. Also because there are more bees, there are more to sound the alarm. The real question is "Re they more defensive than like sized colonies. Also I have found that large colonies can have a large load of mites that stress them. With large populations come possibilities for this type of stree which leads to excessive defensiveness

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Clark, Mo, USA
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    Astrobee,
    They are so aggressive that it's impossible to do any inspections on that colony. I think i will replace her but i didn't know if her aggressive tendencies would likely be present in her offspring queens, being that the new queens would mate with drones of mostly other colonies. The honey production was the best and I thought it a shame to end those genetics. I'll probably just buy some queens this next season and have some more queens to choose from. Thanks for everyones comments.
    jordan

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,620

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    jatkins: Don't take this wrong but since you mention you are a new beekeeper, have you had much experience in handling bees or had a chance to work with someone experienced to see his impression of your bees? Little things like choosing a warm afternoon to work them, using a cool gentle smoke, a nice puff in the entrance and again under the lid as you open it can make a world of difference. On a forum such as this it's pretty hard to discern the skill level of a beekeeper.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,620

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    If I offended that was not my intention. One of the problems with an internet form is that it can be impossible to discern beekeeping experience and skill levels. A hive that might be considered incredibly mean to someone with little experience in working bees might be considered just another "pecky" hive by another.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    2,767

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    Quote Originally Posted by J.ATKINS View Post
    i didn't know if her aggressive tendencies would likely be present in her offspring queens
    It is very hard to make definitive statements on how subsequent generations will behave - lots of variables at play. Of course drone sources will play a large role and I assume in your case that is a big unknown. If you have a non-aggressive drone pool in your area, then chances are pretty good that the next generation queen will produce less aggressive bees. Sometimes the change is dramatic, and other times it is very minor. I had an out-yard where my aggressive bees would go. I only kept about 3 colonies there and over a period of three years they slowly started to become less aggressive. They were still the most aggressive bees I had, but improvements did occur. Bottom line: if you want to dramatically change the aggressive behavior then requeen with known stock.

    Also, the comments by Jim Lyon should be considered. It is very hard to discern the level of experience of beekeepers in a couple of posts. I have a good friend who was rather new to bees. He called me one day and said that he thought that his bees were mean because they were so thick on his veil that he couldn't see. I thought he was simply too inexperienced to really know, so about a week later I came out and inspected his colony. Less than 5 minutes into the inspection it was certain that his bees were extremely aggressive. We killed the queen and requeened. Problem solved.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,134

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    jatkins: Don't take this wrong but since you mention you are a new beekeeper, have you had much experience in handling bees or had a chance to work with someone experienced to see his impression of your bees? Little things like choosing a warm afternoon to work them, using a cool gentle smoke, a nice puff in the entrance and again under the lid as you open it can make a world of difference. On a forum such as this it's pretty hard to discern the skill level of a beekeeper.
    Jim, I was thinking the same thing while reading this thread. I have a hive or two that take more smoke than you recommend. I like to walk around feeling there is a bond between my hives and me. Occasionally, the bees bring me to reality with an unexpected sting on the nose or eyes.

    I opened my best hive last week to have a hundred bees come at me like the front line of a pro football team, the show of force changed my mind immediately. Bees that do not protect are vulnerable to get robbed.
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
    Posts
    2,473

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    Are the aggressive bees Democrats or Republicans? Maybe the approaching "fiscal cliff" has them upset........
    http://OxaVap.com Your source for the Varrox Mite Killing
    OA Vaporizer "One of the highest ranked" by R. Oliver

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Clark, Mo, USA
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    I don't mind you asking about my experience. i am new with 2 years experience. But they really do cover me and follow me about 50 yards to my car headbutting me all over my body. Thanks everybody for your opinions.
    Jordan

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,410

    Default Re: agressive behavior

    Well J.Atkins,

    It certainly wont hurt anything to requeen in the spring. If anything it will probably mello the hive back down. Its your hive and you can do what you want to, some people live in high risk situations and need to kill the hive immediatly in order to keep the peace with neighbors and such, but if you are comfortable that your bees wont attack someone besides you, wait till spring, order some queens and split the hive down into a couple of hives and find and kill the existing queen and requeen both splits and see what happens!! Goodluck with what ever you do!!
    Coyote Creek Bees

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