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Thread: Bees are angry

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    CHarlotte, NC
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    106

    Default Bees are angry

    So, I went to check my bees about 11 this morning and they were angry. Very angry.... Mass exodus of the hive and onto my suit. Even had a lucky girl crawl up my leg and sting just short of my privates. What happened to my gentle, loving bees? Should I check them at a different time of the day? One more question, I usually don't wash my jacket in between checking my hives. Could the stingers left in the jacket be setting them off?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Laurel Hill, Fl
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    471

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Do you have skunks or other night critters that can be aggravating your bees at night? Also, queenless bees can be mean....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,593

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Did you smoke them? There is probably a dearth and that is probably why they are not happy. If you open a hive in a dearth with no smoke that would be a typical reaction. If you open them with a small amount of smoke, and they did that, I would requeen. You could also check for scratches on the front, and little piles of soggy bees that would indicate a skunk...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    CHarlotte, NC
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    106

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    What do you mean by dearth? I did not smoke today. No signs of outside invaders. Each hive is about 5 boxes high and well established.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Glen Arm,MD
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    191

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    dearth-nothing for them to gather

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    CHarlotte, NC
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    106

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    They need to get out there and look harder instead of stinging me. Is it better to check them early, late, midday, or does it not matter?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    CHarlotte, NC
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    106

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Nothing for them to gather would make sense because my other hive was doing the same thing when I went in to them. How long should I wait to try again?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
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    293

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Quote Originally Posted by tucker0104 View Post
    What do you mean by dearth? I did not smoke today. No signs of outside invaders. Each hive is about 5 boxes high and well established.
    Maybe they were mean because you did not smoke? What was the reason you did not smoke? The reason I ask is I have been trying to use very little smoke and noticed the bees were aggressive- I had a fellow beek with me the last time I looked at my hives and he used a lot more smoke (which I was concerned about) and the bees were not aggressive at all.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    CHarlotte, NC
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    106

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Didn't use smoke because I suck at keeping my smoker lit. How do you get the cotton lit and put it in the smoker?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Harrisonburg Va
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    172

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Use a propane torch to light your smoker....I use dry mulch for fuel

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lk Stevens, WA
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    166

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    The way I get my smoker lit, have a can of WD-40 and spray the fuel before lighting it. Leave the cap open and puff the bellows for a good min. or more before shutting the cap.

    I would suspect that you are in a dearth also.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Bees are angry

    >What do you mean by dearth?

    No available nectar, usually due to no rain recently (this time of year) or because of a hard freeze (in the late fall).

    >I did not smoke today.

    That with a dearth would explain the reaction. I would call it normal.

    Nothing else calms bees as well as smoke. You only need a little. If they get excited, use more.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    2,901

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    tucker0104, the scent of previous stings in your gloves or jacket can definitely attract bees, you know, after a sting you can smell the scent of banana's(that's what it smells like to me), that scent stays around a long time unless you wash it off your skin, so just think of how your gloves or jacket smell because surely you don't wash those very often. Could have been something else that set them off too, but just letting you know that previous stings will attract bees, they have a keen sense of smell those buggers do.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    10,018

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Quote Originally Posted by tucker0104 View Post
    Didn't use smoke because I suck at keeping my smoker lit. How do you get the cotton lit and put it in the smoker?
    One of the easiest things to light is rolled up cardboard (it must be dry). If you cut it 3/4 the height of your smoker you can still hold the roll in your hand and light the center with a match. Tip it to the side a little and let it burn out to the edges. You can also blow on it to really get it going in the center.

    If all you have in the smoker is cardboard you don't want to puff hard at the bees because it will smoke too warm. To make it smoke cool add sawdust or grass or some other fuel. It will also burn much longer. You have to add the sawdust a little at a time and shake it down the flutes until it gets burning. Puff hard when you are not smoking the bees and then gentle when you do smoke the bees.

    Try it. You might like it.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
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    2,462

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    I agree with the propane torch. I drop a hand full of pine shavings in the bottom of the smoker, hit it with the torch for 30 seconds or less and add as much pine on top as I think I need to finish. Puff it occasionally, but once well lit it will come back to life with some quick smoker action.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 12 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    CHarlotte, NC
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    106

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Thanks for the great advice.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Jamesville, NY
    Posts
    272

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    I use cedar chips, something a long time beek uses in my area. Easy to light and keep lit and repack if needed. 8 bucks at tractor supply for a compressed bag of the stuff that will last me many years. Smells good too.

    This is the bag I grabbed

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
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    2,462

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Nice I will have to try the cedar, I love the smell of cedar smoke.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 12 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,593

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    The self igniting propane torch is the easiest way to light a smoker for sure. An insert helps, not only by providing more oxygen, but because you can pull the insert out and set it on top of a hive and wait for the breeze to get it going without working so hard. Then, assuming you have gloves, you can quickly drop it in the smoker again. Of course anytime there is a high fire danger, you have to be very careful and sometimes you can't use a smoker at all...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmisc.htm#smokerinsert
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
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    4,410

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Old blue jeans torn in strips. Light easy, burn long. Ditto on the self lighting propane torch. Get a head at HD for $12 and propane plumbers bottles are $2.

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