I’m trying to decide if this was a success or a failure.
I have a fairly aggressive hive that I need to move, but right now it’s only about 100 ft from one of my chicken coops. So going into that hive until I move it (yes, that will be in the fairly near future) during daytime can lead to problems. I needed to get into the second box from the top (it currently has 4 or 5 boxes) to straighten some things out, bottom entrance only.
So, last night well after dark I suited up (full vented suit), put a ‘red’ headlight on my head (and the key to my mistake) and went out there. Yup, they were angry as usual. Got the top box set aside, took off the second box and spent a couple of minutes cleaning things up. I basically had to replace the box, so moved all the frames from the old to the new. Restacked things and walked away.
There was no light, the nearest street light is maybe ˝ mile away. It was pitch black. For anyone that says bees can’t see red, I can verify that they can see at least this LED red light. They weren’t flying in a mad cloud, but enough were flying around. I stayed outside several minutes. I didn’t have anything with me: bee brush, vacuum, etc (yes, another mistake). But it seemed there was minimal flying around me after 5-10 minutes, so I quickly went into the house and into the bathroom. Turned on the lights, and over the next several minutes caught about 50 bees that were hanging on my suit or flying around the bathroom. (BIG note: wife was out of town so I avoided the angry look!).
So this is where I’m looking at this and debating if it was a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’. Had I done the exact same thing in the middle of the day, there would be at least 5000 bees in the air, the chickens would likely get attacked, and it’d be an issue. As it was, maybe 100 or200 bees were in the air. In the morning they already forgot about it. And had I thought to have a feather or brush with me, or a second person to help brush them off, even those 50 would have been left at or near the hive.
So the more I think of it, I think it was predominately a success and would have been a complete success with just a couple of changes.
• NO headlight. Put a couple of red lights on stands on either side shining on ‘white boards’, or something (to keep the bees off me). And maybe a remote-switched white light on the hive to help them find 'home' again?
• Bee brush, feather, something to sweep off any hang-on bees. And either a mirror or camera or something to look at myself to see them to sweep them off (or bribe wife to suit up & brush me off).
Note that it was quite cool yesterday when I did this. The high for day was only low 70’s, which normally is upper 80’s at this time of year. Cooler air might have ‘calmed’ them down as well, so maybe some dumb luck may have made it a better result. Also, the 50 bees on me didn't leave because it was dark and they were only willing to fly at me and not away from me. I did try turning on an outside light, but that only made the bees verify that they wanted to attack me (even walking away from the light didn't help).
I know some will say "don't keep aggressive bees". Yup, I understand your point. My choice is healthy productive bees first, and these girls aren't as bad as other hive's I've had. By a long shot actually. It is easier to work on getting them gentler than try to reincarnate dead colonies. So barring that, what else could I have done to make effort better?