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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Bozeman Montana
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    119

    Default What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    I have but one hive and it is gangbusters. I have only a few months experience and have never experienced bees before. I know from reading; big colony defends hive, dearth-cranky, inclement weather and predators. Right? But what is an average bad experience? 20 or 30 bees bumping your veil? What about bees just buzzing all around you? Or following you 20 50 feet away? No stinging through clothes but was completely different from before or are these normal signs of a big hive? Thanks just trying to understand whats ok and not ok.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Cumberland Va.
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    1,043

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    Pretty sure the answer is yes. Normal. Maybe a little defensive, but if you didnt get stung normal I would say. I think it is important to note the difference between Defensiveness and Aggressiveness. I think Aggressive gets used far to much in common conversation. Bees would have to be harrassing me, meeting me away from the hive, and looking to sting unprovoked before I used that term. I expect them to be protective of what they have worked all summer to put up for winter survival. That would be defensive in my vocabulary. G

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Fort Gay, WV, USA
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    877

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    x2 G - Sounds pretty normal to me. I wouldn't classify a hive as being really defensive myself till I got 2 or 3 times getting stung several times for no reason. As in walk by it and get popped. To me truly Aggressive hives come after you and don't stop after a couple pops.
    Thomas Bartram - Since 2013, 43 - 8 F langs, 22 Italian & 21 Russian

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    N. Las Vegas NV
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    21

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    I have seven hives here in Pahrump NV four of them are very strong lots of bees.
    I use smoke (pine needles) when I first start to work the hives I don't wear a vail just tea shirt and smoke.
    Some itmes I can work all seven of the hives with no vail, if they start buzzing around my face I put the vale on.
    Use a little smoke to much smoke will make them angry, be very gentil don't bang the frames around and don't squash any bees.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Bozeman Montana
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    119

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    So as the hives mature , expect them to be more defensive ? Do you just get used to it and it becomes normal? Just the way it is? I wish I knew how much smoke was enough, I bet I over smoked them. If you roll a bee or ten they become more defensive?( alarm pheromone ?)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Cumberland Va.
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    1,043

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    yes. I hardly ever use smoke, but thats just me. There are a ton of variables that contribute to the defensiveness of a hive. But yes, as they get larger they have more bees to do the defending. One constant, if you crush a bee, the hive knows it and it is going to turn it up a notch, or more. I can go into any hive and carefully go thru it frame by frame with nothing more than a few bees crawling on my hands and flying around. I can be in that same hive and crush a bee by mistake and take 6-8 stings. If there are other factors, I might not get all the way through if I crush one. The more you fool with them the more you will learn when they dont want you in their home. A big hive in a dearth can be a tough job when you need to go deep, that same hive may act like a package when a flow is on. Seemingly not caring about your intrusiveness. G

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    1,759

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    My first year with 2 hives both are aggressive bees on 2 stories. The guards would chase me at 3' away just trying to glance at them.
    They would fly right into my veil with a full suit on on a hive check at any day. Stung thru my bee suit right on my left butt.
    After I finished they would chase me 300' away into my truck. Even after I closed the windows they still trying to hover outside
    to get me. Seems like they remembered me to strike again the next time around. Glad that was over with. The ants killed them all.
    Gratefulness is the key to a happy lifeIf we are not grateful then we will not be happy since we always want something +

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Jefferson Co, TX
    Posts
    661

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    Pinch - Sounds like you have a defensive hive. Most of mine are like that during late summer.

    Beepro describes an aggressive hive and I have seen one that followed me much further than 300 feet. One feral hive that followed me almost 600 feet down a dirt ag road before they left me alone. When we walked back to vehicle sitting 100 feet from hive they was waiting and pounced. It was destroyed.
    Started 9/13, building slowly, now @ 7 Lang hives + 4 nucs, and treatment style not decided yet

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,212

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    As with most things it's the whole picture that has to be taken into account. If it's a sunny afternoon in a flow, I used a smoker properly and the bees are rapidly escalating a defensive response, that is uncalled for. I'd give them a red tack. If it happens again under ideal conditions they get another. If it happens again they get requeened.

    On the other hand if it's a rainy day, my smoker went out and it's a dearth I would be worried about a hive that did not get defensive... they are probably too weak...

    In any strong healthy hive that experiences something that would set off a defensive response (a dropped box, a frame falling etc.), it should not be surprising nor held against them. That response typically will continue to escalate until you close things up and walk away.

    It's not so much the reaction as whether there is a legitimate reason for the reaction.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
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    4,380

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    Sounds like a nice easy hive to work to me. If they don't sting your gloves and clothes, you don't have a problem. Later in the year bees are more defensive, bigger hives are more defensive, etc. Your bees are very gentle compared to a really defensive hive. An aggressive hive is whole nother matter. When you pop the top, they start flying, when you pull a frame they start stinging and the banana smell hits you. You won't even get to the brood nest if you aren't fully suite, heavy gloves, etc. When your gloves look like pin cushions with stingers, you know they are a bit hot. Even your boots will have stingers.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    Ross's description is what I call aggressive plus they follow you several hundred yards still stinging. The DEET runs them off at that point.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Kinder, Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    On the other hand if it's a rainy day, my smoker went out and it's a dearth I would be worried about a hive that did not get defensive... they are probably too weak...
    I learned this the hard way last fall. Did a cutout and they were not happy. Week or so later, much nicer. A month later, they swarmed and the remaining bees where completely calm. They made a new queen, but in my inexperience, failed to gain back momentum. And I thought they were just being nice.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    1,496

    Default Re: What defines "aggressive behavior" on average

    Somehow very same bees are getting nicer and nicer with time and experience. My feral survivor bees are supposed to be africanized (SoCal) and therefore aggressive. At the beginning, after each inspection 2-3 bees patrol our backdoor for 2-3 days. Bees aggressive when something is wrong or when they are so "big" that they feel they can be "bossy!" My universal amateur solution is reduced entrance for most of the time. In my situation, reducing to 1/2 - 1/3 the entrance made substantial difference. I am avoiding deep inspections without reason. I usually manipulate top part of the hive and girls normally do not care. Also - bees in horizontal long hive are much, much calmer. Nevertheless, I am fully equipped and with smoker. I can not imagine inspecting my bees in T-short or without veil, African genes I guess. I think, bees, also, recognize the "master" (who is master is a big ?). My bees tolerate me but much more protective against my neighbour-beekeeper. Last time they chase him away when I peacefully inspect them.
    Серёжа, Sergey

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