What defines mean bees? - Page 2
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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Richfield springs,ny,usa
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    59

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    I consider a bee mean if she's always calling the queen a fat, old beetch. Or if she's always tripping her sisters as they try and take off the landing pad....once is funny, after that it's just mean.

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  3. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,922

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    >When I opened my hives today quite a few where up in my face and less then happy to see me. That makes a mean hive?

    If you used no smoke, I would say it's a normal hive. If you used smoke but it's cloudy, windy or otherwise not nice out, or it was late in the day, I would say it's a normal hive. If they are all over me and follow me a long ways, that's hotter than I like.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    13,203

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    If you used smoke but it's cloudy, windy or otherwise not nice out, or it was late in the day, I would say it's a normal hive.
    I have been aware of this warning but have yet to experience it. Last week when the weather was horrible I went into the hives to check for brood after a split. I did not remove too many frames and the bees did not act aggressively but I did crack open each box and tip them back to look at the bottom of the frames. Is it possible that because we have so many overcast skies that the bees think it is normal and don't get aggressive?

    This was 8 days after the split. On the second day after the split I had a couple of insects dive bomb my head and wouldn't let up more than 10 ft away form the hives. I don't know if they were bees or horseflies so on the 8 day with bad weather I expected trouble and didn't get it.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  5. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
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    1,441

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBuzz View Post
    When I opened my hives today quite a few where up in my face and less then happy to see me. That makes a mean hive?
    You know a mean hive when you work one, and they are constantly mean over time (even when you are not working them), and everytime you are working them. Agreed, some hives can become mean depending how you work them, but mean hives (constantly dive bombing you) are mean all the time, and keep the pets and kids out of the yard. I know of a hive like this No smoker, no suit or veil?, I don't think so,, there is nothing worst than wishing I should have put on the veil, or lit the smoker.

  6. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Slidell, LA, USA
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    267

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    I think the definition of "mean bees" is kind of like the definition of pornography. You and I may not agree about every example but I know it when I see it!

  7. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Summerfield, NC
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    66

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    If more than a dozen or so coming pouring out thirsty for blood right when I lift the lid, I generally regret dealing with that hive, and I sometimes close up and come back another day. If I'm tearing deep down into a hive stacked high, I expect them to get a little irritable, so that estimate has to be altered to take that into account. It's also good motivation to approach the hive with a clear plan-of-action...I like poking around and examining, but they don't.

    For brood inspections on the taller hives, I've been taking along an empty shallow and a cover. I put the cover on the ground upside down and put the super in it, then I start stacking the supers from the hive on that super. I start at the bottom of the hive and work my way up. That way, I don't have to deal with angry bees twice: once when taking the supers apart, and again when putting everything back together. Also, it put everything in the right order for me when I experimented with checkerboarding this past spring (which worked on a borderline-miraculous level for some hives that had lagged in the past).

    It's a good idea to glance over your shoulder at the sky if a normally calm hive seems to be a little testy. More than once, they've alerted me to surprise afternoon thunderstorms that the weather-guessers on TV missed. A few years ago, I ignored the warning while checking out a tiny swarm installed a few weeks before...they kept getting madder, and all at once it occurred to me that it was very dark for the middle of the afternoon. Ten minutes before, there wasn't a cloud to be seen. I wrapped up my "inspection" (which means I stared at all the frames and tried to understand what I was looking at) and closed the hive, but I got drenched before I made it back to the house.

    Once riled, it's not that unusual for a few bees to follow me for a loooonng walk. Generally, I see that behavior more out of the older hives that may have a queen several years old. I've never requeened for aggression...I just figured that it is normal that an occasional bee will be very determined.

  8. #27
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Deming, NM
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    108

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    Pay attention to what you are wearing. If I am in the yard in navy blue shirt/pants, I notice the bees are much more aggressive than if I am wearing light colored clothes.
    Zone 8a at 4300ft. Langstroth- foundationless. 6 Hives. AHB region.

  9. #28
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    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roy, Wa
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    2,949

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    You may have the most gentle Italians, but in some circumstances they, being bees, may resort to defensive behavior or some aggressiveness.
    My hives are not in close proximity to houses and I really don't mind bees that will defend their hive within reason. The gentlest hive really does you no good if they die every year.

    Especially when fall comes and the yellow jacket come a callin'

    You have to weigh the positive aspects of the hive against the agressiveness. There comes a point they have crossed the line and they get possibly should get requeened. I have a few hives that I need to move more slowly and make a point of not opening that hive first thing in the morning. Then they are fine to work. I've never had to requeen myself, just treat some hives with a little more respect.
    Any hive that follows me without provocation would get requeened.
    Last edited by Lauri; 05-14-2013 at 07:18 AM.

  10. #29
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Buderim, Queensland, Australia
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    255

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    I think "mean bees" are the ones that try to sting the tyres on your car. Had such a hive at one stage.

  11. #30
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    34,541

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    I'm a stickler for some things. I think it helps some if we think differently about this. Defining meanness implies that the bees have minds like humans and are either mean or kind. They are neither. They are animals living in their environment and reacting to stimuli. W/out emotion.

    In my mind the proper term is "aggressive". An aggressive hive of bees is one which meets your presence from afar. I recall one time going to an Apiary w/ a beekeeper to do an Inspection. He told me to stop the truck some 100 feet or more from his hives. Before he could tell me to get my veil on before getting out of the truck I was standing outside the truck getting hit in the chest and stung on my head by a number of bees. "We're gonna check those two tall ones first. They are the ones stinging ya. They are my best producers."

    That's what aggressive bees are like. Sending guard bees far from the hive to headbutt and sting. This was in Northern NY back in the 1990s. In other words, not Africanized. In case you wondered.
    Mark Berninghausen

  12. #31
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by alblancher View Post
    I think the definition of "mean bees" is kind of like the definition of pornography. You and I may not agree about every example but I know it when I see it!
    Show me.
    Mark Berninghausen

  13. #32
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Southbury, CT
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    96

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    There are benefits to defensive hives, but you need to be know the difference between defensive and aggressive. "Mean bees" really isn't a good descriptor of anything.

    Defensive bees head but you when you open the hive, but they leave you alone when you are near the hive and they are unprovoked.

    Aggressive bees sting you when you are standing 20 feet from the hive doing something completely unrelated to them, like weeding the garden.

    I am of the opinion that bees which are more defensive/aggressive tend to defend themselves better against other issues, like robbing (though sometimes they are the robbers) I am also of the opinion that they are usually better at surviving with the least amount of management.

    Either definition is manageable in the right situation/locations. We have PPE and smoke so we are well equipped to work "mean bees". I rarely re-queen a hot hive. I prefer to just go in prepared for their temperament over sacrificing a productive hive.

  14. #33
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    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    > Is it possible that because we have so many overcast skies that the bees think it is normal and don't get aggressive?

    Certainly what the bees see as normal weather is dependent on the climate. In Nebraska a "calm" day is when the wind is only blowing 20 mph... I've see bees in rainy climates flying in a light rain... I've seen my bees flying in a 40 mph wind... which is a windy day in Nebraska, but not unusually so... and they were dodging behind wind breaks and flying a zig zag path near the ground going into the wind, and riding the wind higher up coming back...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  15. #34
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    Jun 2012
    Location
    Spicewood, Texas, USA
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    235

    Default Re: What defines mean bees?

    I opened a normally calm hive the other day and they boiled out and started hurling themselves at me. The activity and noise were so intimidating that I closed up the hive, walked away, and tried to lose them by going through an area of thick trees. It was about ten minutes before I felt safe coming back to the house, as I just couldn't lose several of them. There were about 10 stingers in my gloves, but none got me through my suit.

    I mention this because I just now went up to the same hive, and even opened it to check their temperament. They couldn't have been nicer.

    Sondra

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