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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Greater Hartford area, CT
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    264

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    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.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Greater Hartford area, CT
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    264

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenbears View Post
    In my humble Opinion it goes something like this. I have hives I can open, and remove the inner cover. and the bees could care less These are my gold star hives. (complete non aggressive)I at times open them with no gear whatsoever. They show no real reaction to having the frames removed, just go about their business. I have hives that are easy to work but one or two bees will be buzzing around your head once you begin moving frames. these I consider normal hives. not aggressive but the guards are keeping you in check. I consider any hive where the bees begin to head bump upon opening the hive aggressive. when there are a bunch of bees that do so I consider it to be a moderately aggressive hive, and when they try to find a way under your veil I consider then very aggressive, those that sting through the gear are extremely aggressive. any hive moderately aggressive or above gets requeened with a queen grown by a gold star hive. unless I can sit them down and make them understand that aggressive behavior is unacceptable.
    Awesome! I think your description just became my rating scale for colony temperament!

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Greater Hartford area, CT
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    264

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    There are many variables which effect how defensive a colony of bees is and how forcefully they will defend their hive. Colony temperment is one. The weather is another. Time of day, which at times mean something about what the colony is working on or not and how many bees are out working or are at home.

    There have been times in the past when I had to level off hives so they could be loaded more easily when there was 6 or 8 inches of snow on top of the hives and on the ground. Even at 25 degrees, when I took the top box(es) off of the hives bees would fly up at my face. Maybe twenty of them. That is being defensive. I expected them to do that. So I call that defensive, not aggressive. I think the difference is a matter of beekeeper attitude, knowledge, and understanding. Which I think is what vegggirl is seeking.
    Yes, thanks for getting my point! I was trying to understand what was a normal expectation from my hive given the circumstances. BTW -- I did order two nucs so that I could compare them, but one of them got ravaged by a bear the week before I picked up. ah well, I guess bears have to eat, too.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    Boxes that are harrased by bears or people will get aggresive, they will also be a lot more grumpy worked during the rain....

    I had some vandelized last year and they were moody for a month afterwards.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    This is my second year so I only have a tiny bit of experience but my bees last year were very easygoing versus the ones I have this year. They were different breeds to what I have this year though.

    Last year I had a Cordovan Italian queen that was lazy (poor pattern) and got requeened with a Carniolan and then a Buckfast in the other hive (nuc). With any of them I could walk right up to the hive and add syrup to the other side of the follower without issue. The Carniolans were especially gentle and if I hadn't waited so long to requeen and fed sooner I think they would have made it through winter. This year I restarted with a Minnesota Hygienic package and they have been more defensive but also much more successful (took a nuc, still swarmed, made another nuc to stave off an afterswarm). When I brought these bees home I couldn't get within 15 feet of the hive and there was definitely that "one bee". She ended the standoff with a kamakazie maneuver to the crown of my head. Now I can get about six feet from the front of the hive and right up to the rear of the hive, but jacket and veil are required to open it even just to change out the syrup. They are definitely more defensive after an inspection too. I went in yesterday, using smoke because they have begun to sting my gloves (I have washed them which seemed to help but I still took at least two). Later in the day I was gardening on the other side of the house and a bee started warding me off. I think she recognized the smoke smell.

    I am going to try Buckfast one more time (different queen source), then if I have to buy a new queen (versus letting them make their own) I will go back to the supplier of that Carniolan. She was a keeper.

    Do you know what kind of queen you had before versus now? If you don't like how aggressive or defensive they are (by whatever definition or measure), you could try another queen from a calmer type of bee. I've read on here that Cordovan Italians are calmest, then Italians and Carniolans. My experience so far goes along with that, although my Carniolan's progeny was equally calm or calmer and she had a great retinue.
    Last edited by Colleen O.; 06-24-2013 at 09:04 PM.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,392

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    I have one hive that is what I would call aggressive. Bees pouring out as soon as they see me. LOTS of bees bumping my veil and as soon as I put a glove near the entrance or even a small crack, they pour out and within moments my glove becomes a pin cushion. That is by far the most aggressive hive I have personally owned. Not to mention the guards follow me for quite a distance. I did a test one day and walked in front of each hive starting out at the farthest hive from this hive, walking in front of each hive. A couple would bump the veil as I walked, until I got closer to the problem hive, I could watch the guards pour out after me!! I then walked away from the hives and had them follow me atleast 60 yards from the site. Not to mention I have checked them in wind, calm, sunny and hot and cool............and with a major flow on.............no difference in attitude.

    I popped the top last Saturday for some excitement and instantly received multiple stings to the pant legs! Im picking up some queens this Friday and will break this hive down and requeen the splits and I cant wait to kill the old queen!

    I probably wouldn't mind the hive if they were mean and productive........but they are just plain mean and very unproductive........and yes.........they are queenrite! I wont own a mean hive though, I prefer hives that mind their own business and are a pleasure to work!

    PS- This was a swarm I picked up this spring.
    Coyote Creek Bees

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,496

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    Quote Originally Posted by fruitveggirl View Post
    ... However, they were chasing for no apparent reason....
    From time to time I have a crazy girl who is on the war path - she just dedicated to kill herself. I call them "kamikaze bees." My theory is that sometime, old bee decided that she needs to die in the war, not in the foragers field... Having bees so close to the house (10-15') forced us to make some changes in our life-style. Now, when we plan a big party, we always add - "bees permitted". In fact, once we have to cancel the party, which was sad. In this connection, the joke comes in mind.
    Gay politely talk to his neighbor: "You had such great party last night. I saw, people were running all across your property!" Well, my stupid dad knock over the beehive...
    Серёжа, Sergey

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Webster County, MO
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    Aggressive bees are the ones that show their sharp little teeth that are usually still dripping with the blood from the last passerby. They call out vile insults at you, and if you even hint that you heard them, they will laugh and leap into attack mode. They first head butt you from one direction while others turn their little back-sides to inverted position and drive their poison sabres into every exposed area of your being. Yet others direct traffic on the hive runway that resembles tiny black and yellow jets launching from an aircraft carrier. After they get enough bad bees airborne, they sweep down and grab hold of you and lift you off the ground. The little buggers know ever sticker bush in the country, so after they drag you through the thorns, and slam you into a few solid immovable objects, they take you high into the air and drop you. After you are done being filled with stingers and stickers, and being slammed to the ground, they sink their jagged little teeth into you; much like a school of piranha, before they retreat back to their hive and wait for the next unsuspecting beek to approach. At least that has been my experience. Did I leave anything out? Anyone?

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    angola,ny
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    Recently 'poorly' inspected my stronger, more aggressive hive. there 'seems' to be brood drawn on at least 8 of the 10 frames in the bottom brood box. would you recommend reinspecting more closely or leaving them alone for a while? And how long is a while?

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,081

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    Reinspecting for what? I hope you have supers on for the flow.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,594

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    Fruitveggirl,

    You might be interested in this : http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...3MjnMgwHEtSW6A
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    angola,ny
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    I was told by my mentor that it is early for the flow and to continue to feed? What are your thoughts?

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Greater Hartford area, CT
    Posts
    264

    Default Re: I wish someone could define "aggressive bees"

    Quote Originally Posted by Stingy View Post
    One of the Backward Beekeeper (Los Angeles) folks created this HEAT chart of bee aggressiveness. I think this is more or less what you had in mind.

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...at%20Scale.jpg
    Oh, that's a cool chart. THanks!

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