My bees are jerks.
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  1. #1

    Sad My bees are jerks.

    Hi bee friends, I'm seeking some advice because I've decided my bees are jerks. As I'm typing this my wife is nursing yet another sting on her face and a bee is trying to come in through the screen window and get her again, at least 50 - 60 feet away from the hive. Jerk.

    I will give more details below but to be brief, I "inherited" a hive when I bought my house in January in Southern California from the previous owners. We love our bees and have tried to give them the best care. But they are jerks.

    My neighbors have come over angry that they have stung them and even their small children.

    We probably get stung once or twice a week while working in the yard. At first it was like, oh it's the day after an inspection, or I was in their flight path and they got stuck in my hair, or oh, we just mowed so they are agitated. But yesterday my wife was just sitting outside, about 50 feet from the hive, out of it's line of sight, and one just head butted her. So she calmly got up after it left to walk away and it came back and stung her. Happened again today. She stays very calm, doesn't swat, but they sting her anyway. Same with my mom when she was in town, despite being away from the hive.

    I used to sit by the hive and watch them come and go, and I didn't wear gloves my first couple of inspections and none of them bothered me. Now we sort of have to stay inside for extended periods of time when they start coming after us.

    Seeking some advice from anyone willing to give it.

    More details:

    • My first inspection revealed that the top super was completely empty and there was a queen excluder. The top super is a deep and the bottom is a medium - didn't set it up this way, just how I inherited it.
    • Someone from our local beekeeping association came over to help me do an inspection. Didn't notice any problems, but we didn't see any eggs (but we didn't spend much time looking), and we did notice lots of drones.
    • It has certainly been a lot warmer here, which may have them agitated.
    • I have a source of water, a small dish with gravel, for them but they don't seem to use it, ordering a chicken waterer today


    I can attach photos as well if anyone would find them helpful.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
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    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Several issues that may cause this.
    Queenless, they get pissy when no queen.
    Doesn't sound like they have any resources. Feed them some 1 to 1, or 2 to 1 sugar syrup.
    If queenless, get them a mated queen. Deep box should be on bottom, then queen excluded, then honey super.
    Sounds like the guy from bee club didn't want to mess with it too much. A thorough inspection would have told yo all this and more. I'd ask someone more experienced, and really wants to help new beekeepers out. I'm fairly new keeper myself, and have lots to learn too. My advice is basic, and others will chime in soon. Those are the first things id look at though. Good luck.

  4. #3

    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Quote Originally Posted by nscofer View Post
    My neighbors have come over angry that they have stung them and even their small children.
    I'd be angry too. Get rid of the bees.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  5. #4

    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Thanks for the info!

    The person who helped me is coming back in a few weeks to help again with an inspection, and I am going to start attending our local meetings as well.

    I should add the top super is doing well now and filling up with honey. I believe the previous owner would just completely empty the supers when they got full.

  6. #5

    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    I'd be angry too. Get rid of the bees.
    First of all, go dawgs. Second of all, why do you say get rid of them? Don't think this situation is salvageable?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    First off, the guy from the bee association was a waste of time, what's the point of doing a so called inspection if he doesn't even look for eggs or diagnose anything, and leave you none the wiser. Ask someone different.

    Secondly, I agree with what Richinbama said about lack of resources and queenlessness can cause aggression. However a good strain of docile bees will not be as aggressive as you describe, even with these aggravating factors. I think you just have a nasty strain of bee, and should requeen with a queen from a reputable breeder who sells docile bees. As the progeny of the new queen take over and the old bees die off, the temperament of the hive will change.

    But you can't just buy a queen and put it in. First you need the hive looked at properly by someone experienced to see if it has a normal queen at the moment, if it is queenless, if it has laying workers, or if it has a virgin queen. After that has been established, you can then take advice on the correct course of action to successfully introduce a decent queen into it.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    10,219

    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    southern california is within the known range of africanized honey bees.

    these are known to usurp or 'take over' hives from their european cousins.

    plus, their drones can mate with european honey bee queens during mating resulting in more aggressive bees produced by the new queen.

    i second rich's suggestion for trying to enlist the help of an experienced local beekeeper to assess the temperament of your hive. from what you are describing it sounds like the are indeed too 'jerky' to be in a neighborhood.

    if so, you might be able to requeen them from more 'docile' stock.
    'no wise man has the power to reason away what a fool believes' - the doobies

  9. #8

    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Quote Originally Posted by nscofer View Post
    First of all, go dawgs. Second of all, why do you say get rid of them? Don't think this situation is salvageable?
    Go Dawgs....indeed! You already have multiple stings at your neighbor's, including small children. You can play with that hive from now til nevermore but unless you show them that you are genuinely concerned for their well being they will always be your enemy. When you live with neighbors nearby, in my opinion, you are obligated to be especially vigilant if you are keeping bees. Clearly missed the mark here. Time to show some concern for the people.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  10. #9

    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply. I appreciate the input, trying to get this worked out has been quite stressful.

    My neighbor just brought this to my attention a last week, after the club member helped me with the inspection. Before that we had no idea they were causing any issue. Again, we are new to the neighborhood. That's why I'm here, because I'm concerned for the neighbors, ourselves, and the bees that are pollinating the many fruit trees, flowers, and vegetable gardens in the neighborhood.

    I spoke with the neighbor briefly and listened to his concerns. He seemed understanding of the situation and I plan to do whatever I can to smooth things over with him. I'm certainly prepared to have them removed if they continue to be a problem, but I'd like to try to fix it before it comes to that.

    I will follow up with the local club and try to get someone to diagnose the queen situation properly and go from there.

    Thank you everyone for your input! I appreciate everyone's willingness to help.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    Northern Colorado, USA
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    605

    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    I am also thinking you need a new queen, your hive is missing the queen, or something else is going on.

    Any chance you have access to somewhere remote that you can move this hive to for a few weeks until you get everything straightened out? Maybe ask the local bee club if someone has some space where you can move this hive until you get it straight. It is going to take more than a month to get any reasonable number of bees of a different temperament even if you requeen today so keep this in mind with any actions you take.

    Another semi random though, do you have any signs of raccoons or skunks causing problems with the hive. If you have critters bothering the hive on a regular basis it may cause the hive to get grumpy.

  12. #11

    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Not to belabor the point but should one of those jerk bees sting a neighbor who is truly allergic you may find yourself with a problem. You already have a legitimate complaint. Failure to address the issue in a timely fashion may put you in a risky spot.
    We are seeing any number of communities that are enacting bans or significant restrictions on beekeeping. These are often the result of incidents such as yours.
    I would strongly encourage you to get some beekeeping education and an experienced mentor before trying to keep bees in an urban or suburban setting.
    Good luck.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  13. #12

    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Yea, though it's not what I want to hear, I feel like maybe deep down that getting rid of them may be the best course of action - for now. At least until I can raise the bees on my terms.

    I'll keep everyone updated as to how this works out.

  14. #13
    Join Date
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    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Quote Originally Posted by nscofer View Post
    Yea, though it's not what I want to hear, I feel like maybe deep down that getting rid of them may be the best course of action - for now. At least until I can raise the bees on my terms.

    I'll keep everyone updated as to how this works out.
    Been ranting already...
    Before you even get bees in your back yard, first develop plan B (a remote location to move your bees for any reason - e.g. hotness).
    Plan B does not need to be convenient.
    Plan B does need to be remote and safe, however.
    Don't even get your bees until you have this done - security is never convenient.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #14

    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Been ranting already...
    Before you even get bees in your back yard, first develop plan B (a remote location to move your bees for any reason - e.g. hotness).
    Plan B does not need to be convenient.
    Plan B does need to be remote and safe, however.
    Don't even get your bees until you have this done - security is never convenient.
    Per my original thread, the bee hive came with the house, so I didn't have the convenience of planning or prior knowledge. I am however, actively trying to figure out a solution through all the resources available to me.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    it's an interesting scenario nscofer, thanks for sharing with the forum.
    'no wise man has the power to reason away what a fool believes' - the doobies

  17. #16
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Nscofer seems to be a responsible person to me and is to be commended for trying to learn quickly and address the situation. If at all possible, get some knowledgeable beekeeper to come for an inspection with a queen sooner than a couple weeks. The hive could be queenless and could turn around immediately with a queen. If the hive is Africanized, a new queen can turn it around too but obviously that will take more time and expose your family and neighbors to unacceptable risks. If it is Africanized and the beekeeper is willing to take it away, I would pay them to do that. If not, I would kill them with a bucket of soapy water or dry ice. Good luck, J

  18. #17

    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    If its queenless now then two or three weeks its not going to be a good hive and a new queen is not going to be the answer. Laying workers will no doubt be the end of the colony. If it is AHB you don't want or need it as a new beekeeper. Even if not nobody enjoys a hot hive. Soapy water is probably the answer after you harvest the honey if you want it. Put the equipment away and buy some good bees next spring if you want them. Sorry your introduction to our world started so poorly for you. I hope it all works out for the best.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Quote Originally Posted by nscofer View Post
    Per my original thread, the bee hive came with the house, so I didn't have the convenience of planning or prior knowledge. I am however, actively trying to figure out a solution through all the resources available to me.
    In such a case (inheritance), do ask those same neighbors - did they get stung before you got into keeping this bees?
    It is interesting issue IF you got the house with nuisance bees and were not told about them honestly.
    <removed..>

    But regardless of how you got the bees, need to get that plan B in works now.
    Or get rid of them due to liability issues. Maybe the easiest to just cull them all (since they maybe already falling off - only a medium box left occupied if I read this right).
    Last edited by GregV; 07-03-2018 at 08:02 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  20. #19
    Join Date
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    wilmington,nc
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    Default

    Yup you need an experienced beek to help you out. In addition to checking the queen status you need to check the mite load. Easy enough to check with a sugar shake or alcohol wash. Bees with a high mite load can be very aggressive.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: My bees are jerks.

    Try to find a beekeeper who is willing to give you a frame with eggs. It can be transported without bees attached so in 5 days you will know if the hive is queenless and if so, they will make queen cells. If they don't make queen cells then there is a queen in the hive and replacing her will make a big difference.
    USDA Zone 7a - elevation 148 feet

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