Mean tempement, will split help
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Worton, Maryland, USA
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    7

    Default Mean tempement, will split help

    7 th year Maryland beekeeper, 2 to 10 hives depending on how lucky- greedy I am or how much effort I put into them in October.
    5 nucs and 4 colonies went into winter, Queens are all less than 1 yr old.
    only lost 1 nuc.

    largest overwinter hive in 4 mediums, packed full this spring,is meaner than 2 tomcats in a trash can!
    One nuc is a little defensive and I have a buyer for it. The rest of the hives ignore me during inspections.

    Question is, from other more experinced beekps, will it tame the mean hive down by doing the flyback split Lauri describes, is it wait and see, ?
    Or should I consider a different approach?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
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    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    A split will not change the temperament of a mean hive, but it will give you fewer bees to deal with while you locate the old queen and dispatch her. If I have a mean hive, I will break it down into 2-3 nucs and requeen with mature cells from another queenline. I don't ever let them make their own queen. Smaller colonies are also more likely to accept a mated queen in a cage than a large, mean colony with brood they can make their own replacement queen from.

    I had one colony that had a new queen in July. Her workers were fierce going into winter, but I hoped it was just a phase. However, the newly emerged bees are just as bad, so that one is getting requeened this weekend. My approach to this one was cage the queen last Sunday and leave her in the hive. That way they will not make queen cells. On Saturday, I will remove the queen and cage and there will be no more young larvae for them to make their own queen cells with. Saturday afternoon, I will insert grafted queen cups for them to draw queen cells. If you don't like to graft, one can always move over a frame of eggs/young larvae on a newly drawn frame of comb. They easily rework the new wax into queen cells and you get good queen cells.

  4. #3
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    Sep 2018
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    Worton, Maryland, USA
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    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    Is the theroy of the queen being deficient in some way the reason for requeening even when she seems ( to us ) to be a great performer?

    If I put that one in a nuc box with 3 frames, and combine the rambunctious hive with a gentle nuc, is it the norm for the big hive to settle down?

    And the original queen in the nuc will be the hell rasers?

  5. #4
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    Aug 2013
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    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    You should first rule out exterior reasons for the workers being defensive, like being bothered by a skunk at night. If you cannot fine another reason for their poor temperament, then you have to assume some of the drones the queen mated with (or her own genetic line) has expressed high defensiveness in the workers. If its in their genes, there isn't any way to make those individual bees nice. However, keep in mind that the queen should have mated with many drones, so not all the workers might be defensive. That's why I give mine a bit of time if they seem feisty at first.

    I've even taken a spicy queen from a hive and moved her to a nuc box. After 6 weeks, they were still too much for a residential area, so she was sent out to live in the country.

    You could also requeen with a nuc if you want. Once the older mean bees die off, the hive will be nicer, but it will take a number of weeks.

  6. #5
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    Sep 2018
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    Worton, Maryland, USA
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    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    Ruth, thanks for the replies,,,,I am understanding temperment a little better, if its genetics, bad manners will remain untill that line is extinguished.
    If behavior is from external reasons it may subside. Incedently, a skunk destroyed a robber screen that was left on a hive that was set low last week, but the 'veil bangers' base is knee high.

    I like your idea of securing the old queen then grafts. And realizing if its genetics, this might go on for a while. Possibly a long while. I had a large hive loose its queen in winter, no brood ever after that, had bees survive thru summer. They can live a long time, despite what the text books say. ( and they WERE ornery)

    I still havent decided what to do with them, lots of options,,,,,
    Mean bees suck

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Woodbridge, VA (But planning to move to NW Louisiana soon)
    Posts
    260

    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    Quote Originally Posted by 21678 View Post

    largest overwinter hive in 4 mediums, packed full this spring,is meaner than 2 tomcats in a trash can!
    Were they mean before settling in for winter?
    I had a strong hive last year, they were running a little short on stores before nectar was available. They seemed very defensive, but had been no problem at all before winter. I put an internal syrup feeder in and they calmed right down. In a couple weeks the nectar was flowing, they were busy and basically ignored me again. Like ruthiesbees said, look for other reasons why they might be grumpy before you squish a strong queen.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Worton, Maryland, USA
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    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    Great sugestion Greeny, I will feed them today, they did not have any capped honey left, and it is a LARGE amount of bees,,,,

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Turnbow Hollow, Tennessee
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    418

    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    In my opinion, far too much emphasis is incorrectly being placed on "mean temperment" of hives especially right now when the bees are just coming out of Winter and the nectar flow is gradually coming on and getting stronger by the day which I believe we can all agree is a prime factor is driving the honey bees reproductive drive in early Spring. Nearly all of my hives are behaving aggressively to varying degrees. The larger the population of the hive, the more aggressive that hive is. This is natural honey bee behavior.

    With large numbers of newly hatched bees and guard bees in the hive they are going to be a bit tempermental until the nectar flow reaches its max. Until then, it they are too bad, the smoker is your friend and make sure you have a good quality bee suit and gloves.

    You should be regularly checking and inspecting each hive to minimize and take effective action to remedy over crowding, adding brood boxes as necessary until the weather in your area is warm enough and drone production is sufficient to support making splits and split these aggressive hives down to a manageable size.

    I have some hives that have exploded with brood filling 4 and 5 deep brood boxes. I realize these hives are far too large to be practical or produce much else except bees but the ambient temperatures are not warm enough yet to make splits so I provide brood box space to stave off swarming long enough for the weather to improve and I will split my hives down into single deeps employing the "walk away split" method. My past experience is that about 90% of my hives will requeen themselves. The other 10% I can buy queens for or give them a frame of uncapped brood for a 2nd try at self requeening.

    In time, the hives will calm down.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    edited to remove my post. I am so tired of certain people who are dominating the conversation here on Beesource, and in multiple subforums. There are many different ways to keep bees and manage them. I am not a newbee with just a couple of hives and I know how to decide when a hive is mean and needs to be requeened. I was not asking for help in deciding if this hive was mean, or what might be the cause. I know this one was a "genetics" issue since they have been this way from day 1. I was posting the video to show the OP was mean bees looked like.
    Last edited by ruthiesbees; 03-30-2019 at 07:19 AM.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    Wow, those girls are a tad on the aggressive side.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Turnbow Hollow, Tennessee
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    418

    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    I would say they are a tad testy. This may not be the primary cause but it could be aggravating the problem but after I went back and ran the video in HD, I noticed a sizable ant colony that was living inside the top bar covers of that hive. I could see the bees attacking them as soon as you opened up the hive. The hive may have already been defensive but I have my suspicions that the ant colony may be making things worse. Before you get rid of the queen, I would try ridding the hive of the ant colony first and observe if the hive calms down.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    Here is a video of me removing the caged queen from my mean hive last night.......
    These are mean bees.
    But I do not see much smoke either in the video (outside of one quick audio indication).
    If I pull a frame like this and don't smoke the crack generously, some of mine will do about the same.
    So I smoke them and keep them and we work together fine.
    For sure, in this video you'd be seeing me loading the crack with some smoke before I pull anything out (especially in my backyard and especially late in a day).

    Ants are a non-issue.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Ukrainian frame experimentation.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
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    1,379

    Default Re: Mean tempement, will split help

    Quote Originally Posted by Live Oak View Post

    I have some hives that have exploded with brood filling 4 and 5 deep brood boxes.
    That is incredible! I become giddy when I see 10 full frames of brood.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

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