Testing a hive for defensiveness
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    Aptos, CA, USA
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    15

    Default Testing a hive for defensiveness

    I have three hives, at least one of which houses a somewhat aggressive colony. (I have been stung, on more than one occassion, without provocation while in my garden 10-12 feet from the hives. And no, I had not been eating bananas!) I want to know from which colony the culprit came.
    I've read about using blue suede as a way to test the bees; first reported, I believe, by Stort in 1974.
    I just tried using both a light and a dark blue 2" square of suede with no reaction at all.
    Have any of you tested your colony for aggressive defensiveness? What method worked for you?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: Testing a hive for defensiveness

    If the hives are close together, the only reliable way is to lightly smoke and work each hive. That should give you a good idea. J

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Ojai, California
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    Default Re: Testing a hive for defensiveness

    As a breeder, I'd go to the trouble of moving them each a mile or more apart at night, give them 2 days to a week, then work them.

    Colonies parked close together - up to several yards apart - may not tell a clear picture, although it should. Sometimes a hot colony is defensive across the boundaries that another colony considers it's own.

    Africanized honeybees (Apis Mellifera Scutellata X Apis Mellifera Ligurica) have been know to defend territory a quarter mile to a half mile distant. I have not heard of A. M. Ligurica, A.M. Carnica, A. M. Mellifera, A.M. Iberica, nor other subspecies / races being hive defensive at those distances. If an A. M. Scutellata-crossed colony has usurped one of your mild-mannered Ligurica colonies, they could well be the ones bouncing off your veil while you have a neighboring colony open.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 07-16-2019 at 08:38 PM.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    Aptos, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Testing a hive for defensiveness

    Moving the hives apart is a good idea, but won't work for me. My apiary is in by backyard and there is no place to practically move them. I am a hobbyist and have a total of three hives.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Default Re: Testing a hive for defensiveness

    You could screen-plug all three hives and test them individually, but you'll have to note the fist hive open only, close the hive up, wait an hour or so, then open the second colony and work it, close it up, wait an hour or so, the open the third colony. But again you will have some of the bees out from the other colonies when you open up the second and third colonies, so you have to repeat the process in different order on other days, and discount the data gathered on the third colony in particular.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,298

    Default Re: Testing a hive for defensiveness

    Quote Originally Posted by Filboid View Post
    Have any of you tested your colony for aggressive defensiveness? What method worked for you?
    Closing-up a handful of hives during the night and opening them one at a time in the morning - more-or-less as Kilocharlie has just described - is a method I've used in the past for identifying which hive had developed either over-defensiveness or following. My hives have screened bottoms, so that sealing-up the entrances has become a non-issue. I've only ever opened the suspect hives one at a time, and around half an hour apart. (I've never bothered re-sealing them once some bees are out)
    As soon as the problem shows itself, then the last hive opened goes 'to the top of the list' for confirmation the next day, when the process is repeated. Once identified, it then 'goes to the bottom of the list' (i.e. the very last hive opened) to check that there aren't more than one hive showing the same signs. I've usually narrowed the list of suspects down to a handful during inspections anyway, and so it soon becomes clear which colony is actually responsible. The whole process might involve 3 or 4 early mornings, but I consider this to be a good investment of time.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,610

    Default Re: Testing a hive for defensiveness

    Open the hive and run your hand a couple of inches over the top of the hive. If a lot of bees hit your hand, they are defensive. If they are pouring out of the hive and you can't see out of your veil, they are VERY defensive.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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