something odd I noticed about my bees being aggressive - question
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  1. #1
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    Mar 2016
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    Default something odd I noticed about my bees being aggressive - question

    So as usual my bees will be aggressive for some time after opening the hive. The other week I had to knock a supercedure cell and that REALLY annoyed them. This past week I actually took a swarm cell and some frames and tried my hand at my first nuke. I just dont feel like having my girls swarm "IF" I can help it.
    Anyway the last few times tampering with the hive I noticed I will end up chased in my yard, which isnt fun, for a day or so but these last couple times I got angry enough to kill the offending bee. Once I killed THAT bee it was fine. I could walk right near the hive and not be bothered.
    Has anyone ever encountered this situation? The other day a friend of mine got chased for a while and since I didnt know if hes allergic got a bit freaked out. The bee actually chased me into my house where I killed it After that it was fine and I walked right over to the hive later on with no issues.

    Im going to try and get in this weekend for an inspection. I know last weekend I had eggs, larvae and capped so they should still have their queen, so I dont think its queenless agression. I want to make sure and check my nuke to see if that one hatched and returned or if I have to dump them back. Im hoping (I had my insinuation) they didnt requeen themselves previously without me catching it, and the new queen isnt mated with a very NASTY hive from 2 years ago that swarmed on me. I actually never even requeened after that swarm, they were so mean I wanted them to die over the winter. I actually think they were slightly africanized TBH.

    I then thought maybe it was a robber bee, but I dont have many bees in my area (which is why Im trying to halt their natural requeening process), I just have no idea why there is always ONE angry bee!?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: something odd I noticed about my bees being aggressive - question

    Guard bees are the final stage before beginning foraging. And yes, I think a single bee can "learn" an aggressive posture, perhaps even to a particular person.

    My own bees have their bad days, but mostly I can work them with bare hands. I never approach my hives without a hat because they get tangled in my long hair. They don't chase me, and don't zero in on me across the field, either.

    My day job has me caring for bees that are frequently opened (as in every day or two) for various reasons, including training of very new beekeepers, and I don't find that makes them any more aggressive. I work those bare handed, too.

    I have culled many dozens of queen cells this year and I don't think it makes them mad.

    One thing I am very careful about, and which I always teach, is to keep the boxes covered when they are off the hive (when looking in other boxes on the stack, for instance.) I don't set removed frames against the side of the hive, they go in a quiet box. I don't use frame hangers, and I never use those infernal center-mounted frame puller gizmos. Every frame is hand-lifted, so it stays straight and level and clear of its neighbors. And I use robber screens and reduced entrances to keep things calm and quiet in my yard. You might try some of these techniques to see if changing your style of working leaves the bees in a sweeter mood.

    Human-chasing bees would not be acceptable to me. I would be looking for ways to change my practices to keep things less fraught.

    Do you wear leather gloves, or nitrile? Nitrile gloves make a huge difference - almost immediately calming things down since you are no longer so (unintentionally) ham-fisted. When we have students here we ask them to use nitrile gloves instead of their own leather gloves. Most people are really surprised at the difference, even if they wouldn't have tried it on their own.

    A thoroughly queenless hive is almost always mad as a cornered rattlesnake. Today my ankle is sore as the dickens because of hive that had lost its queen and wanted the world to know about their misery. I had both queens and frames with ready-to-hatch swarm cells in my kit and all I wanted to do was check things out and then offer a remedy - they were mean to me, anyway. I bet they are calmer today!

    And right now, my area is experiencing one of those years where the black locust flow isn't happening, so the bees are foraging much harder than usual and a little testier than you'd expect for mid-June. Nothing serious, and the basswood flow appears to be tee'd up as usual, so not really a dearth. But still there are lots of mouths to feed at this time of year.

    Nancy

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Derry, New Hampshire
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    Default Re: something odd I noticed about my bees being aggressive - question

    lets start with some basics. Are you using smoke consistently? Are you suited up?
    Personally I do both religiously. Even in 100 degree heat. I hate getting stung and I always have at least one kamikabee that is destined for death. so i give it to her.
    As you are not watching them 24/7 its hard to know what is going on. I've had a yard go from mild to wild in one week. Turned out it was a skunk keeping them up at night. Also i find large hives and hives with a lot of honey get more aggressive.
    Terrence

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    ct
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    Default Re: something odd I noticed about my bees being aggressive - question

    Quote Originally Posted by kaizen View Post
    lets start with some basics. Are you using smoke consistently? Are you suited up?
    Personally I do both religiously. Even in 100 degree heat. I hate getting stung and I always have at least one kamikabee that is destined for death. so i give it to her.
    As you are not watching them 24/7 its hard to know what is going on. I've had a yard go from mild to wild in one week. Turned out it was a skunk keeping them up at night. Also i find large hives and hives with a lot of honey get more aggressive.
    thanks guys, yes smoke and all gear.
    Unfortunately due to my schedule i only get one day a week if lucky to get in. This behavior just started the past 3 or so weeks. I'm going to check this weekend for my queen and possibly treat for mites just in case.
    Just so strange it's always one bee.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    England, UK
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    Default Re: something odd I noticed about my bees being aggressive - question

    Quote Originally Posted by evil nick View Post
    Just so strange it's always one bee.
    The only explanation I can offer is that the 'one bee' scenario could result from the dilution of prior undesirable genetics.

    If there's ever been a colony in the area which has produced serious amounts of 'following', then even if that colony has been re-queened, any drones from the previous queen will have passed on that trait. So - say there's a few percent of 'follower bees' present in your subject colony at any one time - and that roughly the same percentage occurs within the guard-bee population. That would most probably result in around one 'follower' bee being present at any one time. If I'm correct, then incidents of this annoying behaviour should gradually reduce over time, as a result of further dilution.

    Lots of assumptions in the above, of course, but it's one explanation.

    If dodgy technique was responsible, then I'd expect a lot more than just one bee to be involved.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Derry, New Hampshire
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    2,231

    Default Re: something odd I noticed about my bees being aggressive - question

    Quote Originally Posted by evil nick View Post
    thanks guys, yes smoke and all gear.
    Unfortunately due to my schedule i only get one day a week if lucky to get in. This behavior just started the past 3 or so weeks. I'm going to check this weekend for my queen and possibly treat for mites just in case.
    Just so strange it's always one bee.
    No harm in dispatching the aggressive bee. If i walk 15 feet away and any are on me they are goners. Just a few bees can get the whole colony roaring.
    Terrence

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: something odd I noticed about my bees being aggressive - question

    Quote Originally Posted by evil nick View Post
    The other week I had to knock a supercedure cell and that REALLY annoyed them.
    So you destroyed a supersedure cell (assuming it was the one).
    Why exactly?
    Did you know the status of the colony when you destroyed the QC?

    Maybe they are queen-less as it is OR having a sub-standard queen needing replacement.
    Loosing the only queen recovery cell would annoy me too.
    The bad queen situation does drive the bees crazy (loosing a QC would help) - that could be a typical angry bee cause.

    Speaking of ONE angry bee - I just tune these out as I have bigger fish to fry (to worry about a single bee is not worth it).
    I normally have several angry bees that I ignore - else, I can not even do my job.
    There is a normal threshold of angry-ness which you should notice and do something about it (pump smoke/quit the project ASAP/etc).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame experimentation.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Tampa FL USA
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    344

    Default

    You always have that 1 bee that is trying to get a bee of the month award, it never gets the award due to a early death.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,550

    Default Re: something odd I noticed about my bees being aggressive - question

    >“...the offending bee...”

    That’s just one rouge guard bee. That is not an agressive colony...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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