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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Mission, TX
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    16

    Default Incredibly aggressive bees

    I think I'm going to give a description of my hive before I really talk about my aggression problem. It's a three box warre hive and it sure has grown fast since I've only had it for about 2 months and it's progressed to beginning comb production in the third box (I only added the third box recently.) I feed them 1:1 with essential oils (lemon grass, tea tree, spearmint) and they do have a pretty good supply of flowers too, its in my back yard and I live in a suburban area with plenty of plants. Where I live we do sure get plenty of hot weather (regularly high 90s), and it is pretty humid too, but I have a ventilation rim on the hive and I have them under a large tree with a lot of shade and they have plenty of water near them. They've been pretty darn docile since I've had them and I hadn't been stung yet until recently (ive been wearing just the veil, too hot for a suit really.)

    About I'd say two weeks ago I went in and gave the hive a pretty big inspection, checked about half of the frames in each of the boxes individually and I also turned the hive entrance to another side since I was worried I was getting too many bees flying into my neighbors yard. All in all the inspection was awesome and the bees were very good. I had finished and left the hive for about five minutes to fill up the jars with syrup and when I came back the bees were VERY pissed. I had bees purposefully exiting the hive to attack me and I barely got the syrup on before I got a few stings.

    Since then theres been a pretty intense heat wave over us, it's been in the mid 100s every day and its been humid. I decided to move the hive back about a few feet to keep them better shaded. Well low and behold the bees were incredibly pissed with me moving them over, I had to wear my entire suit and put on two layers of jeans and I still got stung through my sock and somehow one got into my suit and got my chest.

    I did a little reading online but I can't really find too many articles talking about bee aggression like this. It was like they were africanized or something. I got the bees from a local guy who has actually been breeding the local feral bees because they can handle the heat pretty well.

    Thanks in advance, this is my first thread also

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,603

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    Let me be the first to welcome you to the best web site in the world related to beekeeping.
    As far as your dillemma....


    First off, is the hive queenright?
    If so, are there ants or animals (skunks) or neigborhood kids bothering the hive?
    What is the mite/shb load?
    Did you check to see if the hive is being robbed?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Duval County, FL USA
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    If this was a "package" of bees, the new generation from the current queen is now in charge accounting for the lack of aggression earlier. Size of colony can cause defensiveness, when it's only a few frames of bees they aren't too bad but then that number triples. I have read about usurping of hives by AHB in TX also. Some of my bees have been pissy lately (and then fine a few days later). I don't know, but the turning and moving of the hive may contribute also. If it continues, re-queening is probably in order.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,898

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    What you talking about is extreme defensiveness not aggression. This is a huge distinction that beekeepers more than anyone need to understand.

    Congratulations on the inspection and welcome to BeeSource - it sounds like the first part went well and you were happy with what you saw.

    Most folks do not tolerate extremely defensive hives. If you suspect your queen has been usurped by an Africanized Queen get some help and requeen the colony with known stock. There are lots of reasons why a colony's temperament might change. (As an example, you could have walked into a robbing attempt) Talk with your bee supplier and get his/her advice.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    ludlow, Ma . USA
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    " I have them under a large tree with a lot of shade, Since then theres been a pretty intense heat wave over us, it's been in the mid 100s every day and its been humid. I decided to move the hive back about a few feet to keep them better shaded."

    I have read too much shade can make the bee aggressive as can it being too hot and humid.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,546

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    You did an inspection, you turned the hive, you moved the hive and then you moved the hive again. I think what is bothering the bees might be you. Hopefully the gyrations did not hurt the queen.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    monterey Ca USA
    Posts
    83

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    I would say leave em alone a week and try again... The "Defensive Bees" "Pissed Bees" "Mean Bees" "Naughty Bees" "Bad Bees" "Mean Bees... Oh wait I already said that, Is probably the most used thread starter on BS, I think it was my first post as well... Now that I have four months of experience under my belt and am considered by most to be the foremost expert of all things bee related I would like to point out that generally bees are a defensive animal. If you stick your hand in their house on an off day, be it a change in the weather, dearth, menstrual cycle or the like, they will sting you... If they are able to sting you through two pairs of pants with your shirt tucked in to your underwear you may have a problem with AHB... If they chase you around in your yard without provocation you may have AHB.... Otherwise I would recommend you leave em be for a few days and see if they settle down. In my past experiences I have noticed that when one hive is unruly usually all the hives in that yard are unruly that day. Come back a few days later and they are all sweet as pie, to the point where I feel comfortable in only a banana hammock and Birkenstocks. I am guessing you have only the one hive so it would be tough to make that distinction but just to give you an idea... One other thing, be careful with that concoction you are feeding them that blendo with set off robbing like you will not believe. I fed the same to only a few hives in the yard and lost two due to robbing in a matter of days, those EO's are like crack to bees. I would recommend only feeding it when you know there is a dearth or suspect stores are low. Oh yeah and one other thing again, welcome!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Chester, PA, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    If you are going to change syrup jars or want to do anything around the hive without protection I suggest doing it before an inspection. Hives are usually less forgiving after they've been bothered.

    I had one hive about 60ft from my compost bin and I'd get stung almost every time I took out the compost. The same hive (a top bar) would pin cushion my gloves with 20-30 stings before I even managed to get the following board out of the back of the hive. I thought of the hive as feisty. It was annoying to work in and I didn't want it in my backyard so and re-queened from a very gentle hive and it and it's all good.

    Maybe your hive will be happy after it's been left alone for a week or the weather improves. If not, re-queening is always an option.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Lakeland, Florida
    Posts
    464

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    [QUOTE=treetrunk;1146133] Now that I have four months of experience under my belt and am considered by most to be the foremost expert of all things bee related/QUOTE]

    LOL!
    As his 2nd in command.....he's correct.
    leave em alone. quit messin with em for awhile. Watch for robbing and after a week or two check their food storeage and if plenty and they are still mean..Requeen.
    Dont put off the requeening either. this is getting to be the time of the year when a lot of beeks are requeeningand the queens are still available.
    (a new queen can produce a lot of brood come spring and helps in spring swarming, cuts down on agressivness too if from the correct lineage)

    [qoute]I got the bees from a local guy who has actually been breeding the local feral bees because they can handle the heat pretty well./qoute]
    You may very well have a AFB hive. Some of the signs point towards this.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    Did you use adequate smoke?

    We have a lot of African in my area and I have never had bees "pincushion" my gloves. That's not good.

    The signs to watch for for AHB or African genetics are the typical signs of an ultra-wild honeybee: Runny bees that drip from the frames when removed from the hive, bees that take flight all at once when the frames are removed from the hive, very little honey and brood from wall to wall (when a regular hive should be storing honey), heavy bearding, and a very high reproduction rate. The biggest indicator is the runny, drippy bees. They may or may not be aggressive/defensive (a lot of ours are not - they are just difficult to work with).
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Crenshaw County, Alabama
    Posts
    2,001

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerdejong View Post
    <snip>
    Since then theres been a pretty intense heat wave over us, it's been in the mid 100s every day and its been humid. <snip>
    WOW!!!! ...and I thought it had been hot and humid here in south Alabama!!!!!!

    Ed

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Crenshaw County, Alabama
    Posts
    2,001

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    Acebird hit on something that makes me wonder...

    The OP stated...
    I had finished and left the hive for about five minutes to fill up the jars with syrup and when I came back the bees were VERY pissed. I had bees purposefully exiting the hive to attack me and I barely got the syrup on before I got a few stings.
    For the bees to have this quick of an attitude change could the queen have gotten rolled? If she had, would the bees have picked up on it that quick? Would they still be defensive a week later as they're hopefully raising an emergency queen?

    It seems strange that their change in attitude was almost as sudden as a switch being flipped on...we're talking five minutes here.

    Ed

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,208

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    I think anyone with bees in the suburbs should try to have a place lined up in case this happens. If they get mean, then move them to the country while you get them requeened and calmed down. Then move them back to the city. No one enjoys mean bees, not even a beekeeper and ESPECIALLY people who are not beekeepers...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Ithaca, NY USA
    Posts
    1,520

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    I think anyone with bees in the suburbs should try to have a place lined up in case this happens. If they get mean, then move them to the country while you get them requeened and calmed down.
    I think any one with vicious bees in a non-Africanized region should exterminate them. The hive is full of mean gene drones, possibly thousands of them. We don't want them in our county; you don't want them in yours.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,380

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerdejong View Post
    They've been pretty darn docile since I've had them and I hadn't been stung yet until recently (ive been wearing just the veil, too hot for a suit really.)

    About I'd say two weeks ago I went in and gave the hive a pretty big inspection, checked about half of the frames in each of the boxes individually and I also turned the hive entrance to another side since I was worried I was getting too many bees flying into my neighbors yard. All in all the inspection was awesome and the bees were very good. I had finished and left the hive for about five minutes to fill up the jars with syrup and when I came back the bees were VERY pissed. I had bees purposefully exiting the hive to attack me and I barely got the syrup on before I got a few stings.

    Since then theres been a pretty intense heat wave over us, it's been in the mid 100s every day and its been humid. I decided to move the hive back about a few feet to keep them better shaded. Well low and behold the bees were incredibly pissed with me moving them over, I had to wear my entire suit and put on two layers of jeans and I still got stung through my sock and somehow one got into my suit and got my chest.
    It's late summer in Texas. It's hot and likely a dearth. The hive is bigger and stronger. And they are being jacked with by moving the hive every few days. All of these make bees more defensive. These bees aren't mean, just irritated most likely.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,380

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    Quote Originally Posted by peterloringborst View Post
    I think any one with vicious bees in a non-Africanized region should exterminate them. The hive is full of mean gene drones, possibly thousands of them. We don't want them in our county; you don't want them in yours.
    And how could you possibly know they have mean genes. Clarvoyant?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Ithaca, NY USA
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    1,520

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    And how could you possibly know they have mean genes. Clarvoyant?
    According to Ernesto Guzman, Ontario Provincial Apiarist, who was born and raised in Mexico, and worked with African Bees, the drones carry the aggressive traits. Furthermore, Bee Weaver Apiaries in Texas says the same thing, that this year the woods are filled with African bees and their drones are passing the trait to some regular queens (that is, their offspring, the workers).

    Now you can get them tested by the bee lab in Arizona but they are backed up and it may take two months. In the meantime you have let nasty drones mate with your neighbor's bees. Now I am not saying they are African, but what if they are? You want this on your conscience? Better put them down first and ask questions later. JMHO

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Mission, TX
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    One other thing, be careful with that concoction you are feeding them that blendo with set off robbing like you will not believe. I fed the same to only a few hives in the yard and lost two due to robbing in a matter of days, those EO's are like crack to bees. I would recommend only feeding it when you know there is a dearth or suspect stores are low. Oh yeah and one other thing again, welcome!
    They really are. I use to use EOs in my shampoo and whenever I'd be outside I'd get bees going straight for my hair.

    I'm pretty confident I dont have any AHB, they didn't start getting defensive until near the end of that one inspection, they were as docile as can be before that. It looks like it might have just been a defensive change I guess. I googled a little and I found an article (totally lost now though, dunno how I'd find it again) that talked about how defensive bees will assign a lot of guards and that these guards will pretty much remain aggressive until they've died.

    For the bees to have this quick of an attitude change could the queen have gotten rolled? If she had, would the bees have picked up on it that quick? Would they still be defensive a week later as they're hopefully raising an emergency queen?
    That could cause a temperament change and its a darn good point. I was pretty gentle with the bees though and I don't think I'd have crushed her but who knows.

    Anyway I guess the safest approach would be just to leave them alone for a month or so, it is a warre hive and that's pretty much the whole idea. They arent really bothering anyone except me whenever I go near the hive. I'm going to quit feeding them, theyve definitely gotten plenty of stored honey from that syrup and those EOs could get robbing going. I'm going away for a week and a half anyway and by the time I come back it should be in the cool 90s. Thanks for all the awesome responses! This is a badass forum.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,380

    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    Quote Originally Posted by peterloringborst View Post
    According to Ernesto Guzman, Ontario Provincial Apiarist, who was born and raised in Mexico, and worked with African Bees, the drones carry the aggressive traits. Furthermore, Bee Weaver Apiaries in Texas says the same thing, that this year the woods are filled with African bees and their drones are passing the trait to some regular queens (that is, their offspring, the workers).

    Now you can get them tested by the bee lab in Arizona but they are backed up and it may take two months. In the meantime you have let nasty drones mate with your neighbor's bees. Now I am not saying they are African, but what if they are? You want this on your conscience? Better put them down first and ask questions later. JMHO
    And none of that says anything about these particular bees.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Re: Incredibly aggressive bees

    Don't worry Peter Loring - they won't survive up there in NY, at least not in a form you would recognize.

    Normally the temperament comes from the queen. It is common down here to calm them down with virgins. You can however, end up with a back crossed African queen, if you let them breed past a couple of generations. In my parts (NM) it's not a big deal and you may not notice, but Texas bees come from a different gene pool.

    Still these bees could be something else - and it is highly doubtful they are African. They don't have to be African to be mean. The worst attack I ever personnally experienced (50+ stings) came from regular old Italians.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

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