Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
Since I am in urban environment, I deeply concern about bees "aggressive" behavior. All definitions regarding bees are arbitrary because each beehive is different. We also need to separate "outside the hive" and "inside the hive". Bees may be normal, in bad mood; exhibit protective or aggressive behavior, other. Each behavior may have many reasons: queenless, genetics- AHB, robbing, animals bother bees, no honey flow etc. Now, let see how it looks like from outside the hive:
In order to compare, we need to establish what is normal behavior. To, me, normal bees behavior is when I could do my business and bees do their business and we do not bother each other much. My normal business - I could work in the garden within 10-20' from the beehive and when I approach bees, they mostly ignore me. "Bees in bad mood" are more sensitive to my "normal operations" around the hive, but "bad mood"is more noticeable inside the hive. "Protecting behavior" is when bees were disturbed (inspection, unwanted animal visitors, robbing etc) and sent out a few guards to patrol the territory. Guards could zig-zag in front of your face, head-bump and if you do not understand - sting... The same behavior may be because of "bad mood." Protective behavior in my opinion is normal and an indication of the strong healthy hive. Depending from the state of the hive,season etc, it may be more or less pronounced. If my bees do not exhibit protective behavior at all - I would worry.
"Aggressive behavior" - I personally did not witness it (thanks God!) without opening the hive (different story - now we are talking about unopened hive). Based on descriptions - it is when hundreds bees meet/follow you 100' away from the hive with intention to sting without any obvious provocation from your side (somebody else could provoke them). This is not acceptable and needs to be addressed. BUT: do not make quick decision - let them bee for a week or two in peace (if possible) - may be problem will be solved by itself (by bees). With bees, you never know.

Similarly, we could analyze bees behavior inside the hive, but I would leave it for more experienced beekeepers. But, in my definition - really aggressive behavior must be repetitive and involves hundreds of bees literally attacking you and following you long distance. Of coarse, just flying disturbed bees are not counted. I would be careful to call disturbed bees by lousy inspection "aggressive" - your lousiness made them protective, to save their home.
Thanks, you've addressed my concerns. I'm also in a suburban environment with three young children who invite their friends over a lot. My property is about an acre wide, with the bees at one end and the kids' playstuff on the other end, so they are separated by a good deal of space. But I was concerned that bees were chasing us when we were not even touching the hive. We were at least 15 feet or more away. If they were upset due to sloppy handling, that would be one thing. However, they were chasing for no apparent reason. Notice that I do not say, "for no reason" because I'm sure that in their minds they had good cause. So I was trying to decide why. I was trying to figure out if the move had made them grumpy and defensive or if I was going to end up with aggressive bees. From your answer and others, I would say that it was the move that's put them off. If it was a hive trait, it sounds like there would have been greater numbers of really pissy bees. So I feel more relaxed about that. Thanks so much.