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  1. #1
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    Default Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Your thoughts on this....

    Couple years bake I was at a beekeeper association meeting. Some men were talking about requeening hot hives. An old timer stated that whenever he has a tough time requeening the hybrid hives he soaps a large quantity of them. It makes them less aggressive due to smaller numbers and they seem to accept the new queen better. I am assuming he shakes a few frames off into a bucket of soapy water to do this but I was completely ignorant of soap killing bees at the time so I kept quiet and listened to the conversation.

    Does this method sound feasible to you? This gentleman was a life long keeper so that always adds weight to claims for me. That said, we all have false beliefs. I have noticed that the smaller hives I collect in the phoenix area are generally docile when I collect them. Perhaps forcing some smaller numbers in order to implant a new monarch under less aggressive circumstances would be a smart tactic?

    I'm thinking the man I was listening to used soap to force these smaller numbers.
    Your thoughts on his methods?
    Last edited by gruntworker; 01-12-2017 at 06:32 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Although smaller colonies are easier to requeen but killing off a portion is plain stupid. Soaping doesnt make them less agressive being smaller does. You can break them into nucs and increase or recombine later. What beekeeper doesnt want more. There will probably be a disagreement but thats my opinion.
    Last edited by Billboard; 01-12-2017 at 02:42 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by gruntworker View Post
    Your thoughts on this....

    Perhaps forcing some smaller numbers in order to implant a new monarch under less aggressive circumstances would be a smart tactic?

    Your thoughts on his methods?
    This is the route I would take. That's just me. Others may use the soapy water method.

    I myself have had to re-queen extremely hot hives before. A very hot hive is not fun, and you must keep your wits about you when working them. It may be that soapy water is less stressful and with quicker results than using the smaller numbers management methods for some people.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Here's what might be a better, non bee killing method, to achieve a similar goal. I use it myself on extremely aggressive hives. Pick up the vicious hive and move it one box at a time to at least 30 or 40 yards away or more. The idea is to lose some of the bees to make finding the queen easier. Then go through it to find the queen, and requeen the hive.

    What happens is this. The most aggressive bees are the older ones that have reached flying age. They have learned the location of the hive and as you go through the hive looking for the queen a lot of these bees will end up back at the old location, so you will get stung less as you work the boxes, and the remaining bees will be calmer. The old bees need not be wasted if they can drift into another hive near their old location. The bees less than 2 weeks old stay in the moved boxes because they haven't started flying yet or learned the location of the hive. These younger bees are also much better at accepting a new queen than the older ones are.

    The new queen should be introduced via a candy release cage which will take around 2 days till the queen is released. By this time there will be almost no old bees left in the hive, only young nurse bees that are very amenable to accepting any queen given them. That's as long as there is another hive near the old location for the old bees to drift into, otherwise it's surprising how they can find their way back.

    So you have an easier time finding the old queen, better chances of success with the new one being accepted, and no bees need be killed or wasted.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 01-12-2017 at 04:12 AM.
    "Thinking Inside The Box"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Here's what might be a better, non bee killing method, to achieve a similar goal. I use it myself on extremely aggressive hives. Pick up the vicious hive and move it one box at a time to at least 30 or 40 yards away or more. The idea is to lose some of the bees to make finding the queen easier. Then go through it to find the queen, and requeen the hive.

    What happens is this. The most aggressive bees are the older ones that have reached flying age. They have learned the location of the hive and as you go through the hive looking for the queen a lot of these bees will end up back at the old location, so you will get stung less as you work the boxes, and the remaining bees will be calmer. The old bees need not be wasted if they can drift into another hive near their old location. The bees less than 2 weeks old stay in the moved boxes because they haven't started flying yet or learned the location of the hive. These younger bees are also much better at accepting a new queen than the older ones are.

    The new queen should be introduced via a candy release cage which will take around 2 days till the queen is released. By this time there will be almost no old bees left in the hive, only young nurse bees that are very amenable to accepting any queen given them. That's as long as there is another hive near the old location for the old bees to drift into, otherwise it's surprising how they can find their way back.

    So you have an easier time finding the old queen, better chances of success with the new one being accepted, and no bees need be killed or wasted.
    Never heard that but i like it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    I had a "hot hive" that I did consider throwing a bucket of soapy water on. Instead, I went it and grabbed half the comb and moved them to a nuc. Found out days later that I ended up with the queen in that one. The remaining hive was given a new queen and all is well now.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    I had a "hot hive" that I did consider throwing a bucket of soapy water on. Instead, I went it and grabbed half the comb and moved them to a nuc. Found out days later that I ended up with the queen in that one. The remaining hive was given a new queen and all is well now.
    Ruth, didn't the queen in the mud eventually lay enough eggs so that any hive that was descendant from here genetics was hot as well?

  8. #8
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    Jun 2016
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    York, York County, SC
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Are we certain they were not using the work smoke, instead of soak?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    I just split them all up and all the splits are much nicer and now I have four hives... or five hives...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrequeeninghot.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Billboard View Post
    Although smaller colonies are easier to requeen but killing off a portion is plain stupid. Soaping doesnt make them less agressive being smaller does. You can break them into nucs and increase or recombine later. What beekeeper doesnt want more. There will probably be a disagreement but thats my opinion.
    LOL, soaping makes them dead...but seeing as the OP is in Arizona, the bees may be [partly] Scutellata, that may be preferable...

    ETA:

    Of course, I -have- found that, in general, dead bees tend to be less aggressive than live bees...except for the Zombie Apocalypse bees, but they move much slower and are easy to get away from.
    Last edited by BadBeeKeeper; 01-12-2017 at 09:54 AM.
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    I would just spray them with light sugar water to keep them busy...
    Bee Thankful Raw Honey
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    What does the term "hybrid hive" mean in the OP (third sentence)?
    Zone 7a - 1650ft

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    This guy uses soapy water to kill the bees:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38VG_9S5ISU
    Zone 7a - 1650ft

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    I did a entire hive of Africanized Hybrid bee hive in soapy water. They indeed were less aggressive I did re-queen and they killed the queen if you were wondering.

    Here is a tid bit of something to chew on people that have never dealt with Africanized bees. It's a safety issue.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spur9 View Post
    What does the term "hybrid hive" mean in the OP (third sentence)?
    Mutt Bees. Like if you go to a county kennel and go pick up a dog, they will say it's a mix of blah blah and blah blah. Africanized hybrids is typically what is called out since they're open bred bees and crossed with other non ferrel bees. The dominant is Africanized traits making it undesirable for beekeepers to manage. I have 1st hand experience.

    I was steered to say Africanized Hybrids when I was saying "Suspected Africanized bees" since you'd have to send them off to a lab to have them confirmed.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by BadBeeKeeper View Post
    LOL, soaping makes them dead...but seeing as the OP is in Arizona, the bees may be [partly] Scutellata, that may be preferable...

    ETA:

    Of course, I -have- found that, in general, dead bees tend to be less aggressive than live bees...except for the Zombie Apocalypse bees, but they move much slower and are easy to get away from.
    I believe he meant that if he dumped a large portion of his hive into soapy water to kill them, the subsequent lower volume of bees would be less aggressive. That said, I know he was talking about Scuts. I originally thought about this after i collected a rough hive a couple days back. I cant split them yet because there are no brood in the box and no queens to be found this early.

    The question would be are 10,000 bees a lot less aggressive than 20,000 bees? I also wanted to get my finger on the pulse of how people thought about the action of killing off some of your bees. I remembered this conversation particularly because i found this guy interesting. He also stated that when you kill the old queen, squish her and rub her body around the hive and then throw her in the bottom. In addition, he recommended adding brood from another box. He explained this in terms I could understand. The concept was that since bees are driven by smells, lots of different smells would confuse them and make them more likely to accept a queen bee that smelled a bit different then most of the sister bees. All that said, I have never seen him again and guessing at the motivation of bees is beyond me at this point. Perhaps at any point.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Originally from AZ so have dealt with some Africans. We would move them to a different location in the yard. We then made them queenless. We left them that way and killed queen cells for five days then introduced the new queen with candy and had pretty good results. Old bees are the problem as Oldtimer said. They do disperse among the other colonies. The problem in AZ was the Africans will rob out the good colonies and between drones and swarms moving in it was tough to keep gentle bees. We did however learn to live with those mean little @$#%% and loved the production.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by gruntworker View Post
    Ruth, didn't the queen in the mud eventually lay enough eggs so that any hive that was descendant from here genetics was hot as well?
    Depending on "why" they were hot, the answer might have been a "yes", but about a month later, I had the chance to put a different queen in that hive and gift the other one to a very desperate beekeeper with a queenless hive going into fall. They knew why I wanted to get rid of her, but were happy to get a mated queen that late. I did find that the workers in the nuc calmed down considerably after they were split off into a smaller colony. So sometimes, it can be "environmental" and not just genetic. I followed Michael Bush's recommendation to divide and conquer.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Soaping bees to make them less agressive.

    Yeah i know theyll be dead.

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