Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)
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  1. #1
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    Default Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)

    Hey All,

    Brand new to beekeeping and things don't appear to be going well (be gentle please). I recently installed a split from my sister and took 5 frames (1 honey, 2 capped brood, 1 pollen/nectar, 1 drawn) and a few pounds of bees. I installed them in a new 10 frame brood box and things seemed to be going well. About 2 weeks after bringing them home I had to opportunity to check on another local derelict hive. It was in terrible shape and I decided to take their queen and re-home it in my queenless split. The introduction went great and in a couple days I turned her loose and I got to hear the hum sound. Well, that was about a week ago and as I looked out my window I see my hive appears to be swarming at the moment. I freaked out and ran out there to see if I could figure out what was going on. I opened the box and found the queen I had installed still there. The bees then decided they didn't like me anymore and tore me to pieces. I spend most evenings sitting by the hive having a beer (or three) and never had them react this way. I was still getting tagged over 40-50 feet away. Takeaway point is that they are super upset and I am confused as to what I should do. I have large trees next to the hive and I am afraid they may swarm up high and I won't be able to retrieve them. Would a newly installed queen abscond so quickly after being introduced to a new hive? What did I do wrong? Thanks in advance!

    hal4287

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  3. #2
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)

    Quote Originally Posted by hal4287 View Post
    Hey All,

    Brand new to beekeeping and things don't appear to be going well (be gentle please). I recently installed a split from my sister and took 5 frames (1 honey, 2 capped brood, 1 pollen/nectar, 1 drawn) and a few pounds of bees. I installed them in a new 10 frame brood box and things seemed to be going well. About 2 weeks after bringing them home I had to opportunity to check on another local derelict hive. It was in terrible shape and I decided to take their queen and re-home it in my queenless split. The introduction went great and in a couple days I turned her loose and I got to hear the hum sound. Well, that was about a week ago and as I looked out my window I see my hive appears to be swarming at the moment. I freaked out and ran out there to see if I could figure out what was going on. I opened the box and found the queen I had installed still there. The bees then decided they didn't like me anymore and tore me to pieces. I spend most evenings sitting by the hive having a beer (or three) and never had them react this way. I was still getting tagged over 40-50 feet away. Takeaway point is that they are super upset and I am confused as to what I should do. I have large trees next to the hive and I am afraid they may swarm up high and I won't be able to retrieve them. Would a newly installed queen abscond so quickly after being introduced to a new hive? What did I do wrong? Thanks in advance!

    hal4287
    Hal:

    Welcome to Beesource. A couple quick thoughts- Did the colony actually issue a swarm following your post? Given the timing you described, it is certainly possible that the queenless base could have reared their own queen from their own resources had there been freshly-laid eggs in the brood frame you gave them.

    That said, I wonder if what you might have been observing was orientation flights? Assuming it has been about three weeks since you brought the queenless split home, it is quite probable that the house bees you brought home are now transitioning to field bee status and are thus getting acclimated to their surroundings.

    Here is a good basic chart of the relative ages of bees by task- these dates may vary considerably based on the needs of the particular colony:

    https://articles.extension.org/pages...for-beekeepers

  4. #3
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by hal4287 View Post
    Hey All,

    Brand new to beekeeping and things don't appear to be going well (be gentle please). I recently installed a split from my sister and took 5 frames (1 honey, 2 capped brood, 1 pollen/nectar, 1 drawn) and a few pounds of bees. I installed them in a new 10 frame brood box and things seemed to be going well. About 2 weeks after bringing them home I had to opportunity to check on another local derelict hive. It was in terrible shape and I decided to take their queen and re-home it in my queenless split. The introduction went great and in a couple days I turned her loose and I got to hear the hum sound. Well, that was about a week ago and as I looked out my window I see my hive appears to be swarming at the moment. I freaked out and ran out there to see if I could figure out what was going on. I opened the box and found the queen I had installed still there. The bees then decided they didn't like me anymore and tore me to pieces. I spend most evenings sitting by the hive having a beer (or three) and never had them react this way. I was still getting tagged over 40-50 feet away. Takeaway point is that they are super upset and I am confused as to what I should do. I have large trees next to the hive and I am afraid they may swarm up high and I won't be able to retrieve them. Would a newly installed queen abscond so quickly after being introduced to a new hive? What did I do wrong? Thanks in advance!

    hal4287
    Hal:

    Welcome to Beesource. A couple quick thoughts- Did the colony actually issue a swarm following your post? Given the timing you described, it is certainly possible that the queenless base could have reared their own queen from their own resources had there been freshly-laid eggs in the brood frame you gave them.

    That said, I wonder if what you might have been observing was orientation flights? Assuming it has been about three weeks since you brought the queenless split home, it is quite probable that the house bees you brought home are now transitioning to field bee status and are thus getting acclimated to their surroundings.

    Here is a good basic chart of the relative ages of bees by task- these dates may vary considerably based on the needs of the particular colony:

    https://articles.extension.org/pages...for-beekeepers
    Thank you for responding! I think you are right. I believe a whole mess of brood and the hive is transitioning.

    They are still being super aggressive. I was greeted this morning to the sight of my wife running and screaming around the backyard as she was filling the bird feeders. She bolted inside the house and insisted there were bees in her hair. Sure enough one flew out. So, at the moment, me and the bees are in the dog house. I decided to feed them this morning and took the inner cover off and they started pouring out the front. Any advice on how to tame them down? The new queen was from a super mellow hive and maybe I can just wait for the old bees to die off and the next generation will be nicer? Why would my bees suddenly become a-holes? Thanks again!

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)

    Not sure where you are but most likely they are just hungry. Give them some syrup and y'all will be having beers again in no time.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)

    Quote Originally Posted by hal4287 View Post
    About 2 weeks after bringing them home I had to opportunity to check on another local derelict hive. It was in terrible shape and I decided to take their queen and re-home it in my queenless split.
    what do you mean by 'terrible shape'? was the queen in the derelict hive laying well with solid healthy brood before you moved her?

    did you see new eggs laid when you looked for and found the released queen?

    consider adding your location to your profile, it helps a lot to know that for folks who are responding to your questions. here is a link that tells how:

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...elevant-to-you
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)

    Are you using smoke? Skunk bothering them maybe?
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper - my Youtube Vlog
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4y..._as=subscriber

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)

    Kbshorts is probably correct in that the hive is hungry. Bees get defensive when there is little coming in and their stores are low or non-existant. Sometimes they are just ornery. I have had a few hives that were very defensive and were slated for a new queen earlier this year. Worked them a few weeks later and they were calm as could be so I put those plans on hold. They have not been defensive since then. I typically do not use smoke, so calm to me means easy to work and no bumping. After working the bees, I like to sit in front of the hives relaxing and watching and have no problem removing my veil.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbshorts View Post
    Not sure where you are but most likely they are just hungry. Give them some syrup and y'all will be having beers again in no time.
    Thank you so much for responding! I put two smallish feeders inside the hive with them. I also put a pollen patty in as well. Here’s to hoping I can have my evening beer with them again soon.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by hal4287 View Post
    About 2 weeks after bringing them home I had to opportunity to check on another local derelict hive. It was in terrible shape and I decided to take their queen and re-home it in my queenless split.
    what do you mean by 'terrible shape'? was the queen in the derelict hive laying well with solid healthy brood before you moved her?

    did you see new eggs laid when you looked for and found the released queen?

    consider adding your location to your profile, it helps a lot to know that for folks who are responding to your questions. here is a link that tells how:

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...elevant-to-you
    Thank you for responding! I am in north MS. The hive I took the queen from was practically destroyed. There was a dead cotton rat in the hive and tons of stuff packed in there like plastic wrappers and vegetation. She didn’t have any comb to really lay in. Most of it was messed up. Basically, I knew the hive wouldn’t make it through another winter and snatched her. The hive hasn't been checked in over 3 years. I hope she isn’t a dud. Thanks again!

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Kbshorts is probably correct in that the hive is hungry. Bees get defensive when there is little coming in and their stores are low or non-existant. Sometimes they are just ornery. I have had a few hives that were very defensive and were slated for a new queen earlier this year. Worked them a few weeks later and they were calm as could be so I put those plans on hold. They have not been defensive since then. I typically do not use smoke, so calm to me means easy to work and no bumping. After working the bees, I like to sit in front of the hives relaxing and watching and have no problem removing my veil.
    . This is my dream. I usually use smoke but would love to have a nice hive versus one that produces a lot of honey. I don’t want any honey from them. I just enjoy the relationship with the bees and having something to tend. Thank you for your thoughts!

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ifixoldhouses View Post
    Are you using smoke? Skunk bothering them maybe?
    . I didn’t when I thought they were swarming. I freaked out so much I just threw on the jacket and ran. When I pulled the brood frame is when they really lit me up. I probably had 20 bees on my veil trying to sting. I wasn’t in the hive 10 minutes. The thing that was really seemed different was they wouldn’t go away after I left. They followed me to my backdoor over 50ft away. I am really hoping feeding will calm them back down.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by hal4287 View Post
    Here’s to hoping I can have my evening beer with them again soon.
    I'm with you on this... one of the simple joys of life.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)

    I highly doubt the hive was swarming, but even if it was,what was the purpose of running out to the hive and tearing it apart. How were you planning on stoping the swarming from happening? Your hive does sound like orientation flights, but it could also have been a robbing situation that was developing. This would certainly explain the defensive nature of the hive. You are probably in a dearth and feeding needs to be done carefully or you will cause robbing to occur.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)

    Quote Originally Posted by hal4287 View Post
    . This is my dream. I usually use smoke but would love to have a nice hive versus one that produces a lot of honey. I donít want any honey from them. I just enjoy the relationship with the bees and having something to tend. Thank you for your thoughts!
    Something to remember. The bees aren't your friends, they don't know you, they are not pets, and they can be mild one day and the next day they can light you up.
    Also, I have know proof of it but some of my friends swear that bees do not like alcohol be it beer or whiskey. Don't know this for a fact , it was just told to me.
    Some days it's not worth chewing through the restraints.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)

    Quote Originally Posted by fadder View Post
    ........The bees aren't your friends, they don't know you, they are not pets.........
    +1
    This reminder is needed periodically, indeed.
    You are also not "saving bees" even though you may feel that way.

    Remember this when you are using bees as an object to satisfy your "having something to tend".
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)

    as far as the learning opportunity goes i think the two week time period between making the split and introducing a new queen is what would have better to have avoided.

    as russ pointed out 14 days is long enough for the split to have had an emergency queen emerge and the 'swarm' activity you observed may have had something to do with that.

    the other thing is if your skill level didn't allow you to determine why the colony from which you got the queen from was having problems, especially if it happened to be a problem associated with the queen, moving her to the split would not have been a good idea.

    the 'hum sound' could have been the colony reacting negatively to the presence of a foreign queen. if you saw her in there later it means they didn't kill her but she may have killed any virgins that happened to be in there.

    at this point you will need to go into the hive and determine whether or not the colony is queenright. if the queen you installed is failed, then some of the aggressiveness may have to do with that.

    not knowing what part of the country you are in leaves us guessing as to whether or not you may have a flow vs. being in dearth conditions at this time, but if there is nectar available then i doubt supplying syrup is going to do much.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fadder View Post
    ........The bees aren't your friends, they don't know you, they are not pets.........
    +1
    This reminder is needed periodically, indeed.
    You are also not "saving bees" even though you may feel that way.

    Remember this when you are using bees as an object to satisfy your "having something to tend".
    Thank you for your response. It was not my intention to save the bees. If anything, as a wildlife biologist, I wouldn’t want to save European honeybees but put efforts towards native bees first.

    I don’t think I am alone when I say that tending bees is cathartic for many beekeepers.

  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    as far as the learning opportunity goes i think the two week time period between making the split and introducing a new queen is what would have better to have avoided.

    as russ pointed out 14 days is long enough for the split to have had an emergency queen emerge and the 'swarm' activity you observed may have had something to do with that.

    the other thing is if your skill level didn't allow you to determine why the colony from which you got the queen from was having problems, especially if it happened to be a problem associated with the queen, moving her to the split would not have been a good idea.

    the 'hum sound' could have been the colony reacting negatively to the presence of a foreign queen. if you saw her in there later it means they didn't kill her but she may have killed any virgins that happened to be in there.

    at this point you will need to go into the hive and determine whether or not the colony is queenright. if the queen you installed is failed, then some of the aggressiveness may have to do with that.

    not knowing what part of the country you are in leaves us guessing as to whether or not you may have a flow vs. being in dearth conditions at this time, but if there is nectar available then i doubt supplying syrup is going to do much.
    Thank you squarepeg. I have sent a video of the activity and was told by another more experienced beekeeper that it was orientation flights. I have observed again since the about 3pm when the sun hits the box. I updated my profile to show that I am MS. There isn’t much blooming around me at the moment (crepe myrtles, a few early sunflower spp.). I put a few small feeders in the hive but they don’t appear to be working. I have a ceracell top feeder I am putting in today.

    You are right I have limited experience when it comes to hive inspections. When I inspected the other hive it was obvious to me that they had been having a tough time with cotton rats and the lack of previous maintenance had left them with very limited hive space. They also had almost no drawn comb and it looked like they were putting most of the effort to honey production. I put the queen in a clip in my hive and watched closely for signs of aggression. She was accepted immediately and they began to feed her and start fanning. I waited about 30 hours then released her. A hive inspection a couple days later and she was moving around in the brood frames. I did not see any eggs due to poor lighting and bad eyesight. I will check when I put the new feeder on and report back.

    Is it possible the hive is transitioning one generation to being field bees and they are more aggressive than the previous generation that has died off? I was working in my garage yesterday morning and out of no where one flew in and stung me for no apparent reason. I was just talking to the wife. Maybe I still have pheromones on me?

    Thanks again!

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Beginner Question (Emergency...maybe?)

    He is in a dearth that will continue until about the 2nd week of August.

    It is almost 100% guaranteed they raised a queen that had emerged by the 14th day. Bees with a virgin queen will often do strange things such as appear to be swarming while she is on a mating flight. It does not matter if there is an old queen in the hive, the virgin will still fly out to mate and eventually the old queen will disappear.

    There is another possibility which is that the new colony could be getting robbed. Aggressiveness is typical when a small colony is attacked. This would also explain the bee in your wife's hair. It would be worth a bit of time to ensure this is not robbing!
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  21. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    He is in a dearth that will continue until about the 2nd week of August.

    It is almost 100% guaranteed they raised a queen that had emerged by the 14th day. Bees with a virgin queen will often do strange things such as appear to be swarming while she is on a mating flight. It does not matter if there is an old queen in the hive, the virgin will still fly out to mate and eventually the old queen will disappear.

    There is another possibility which is that the new colony could be getting robbed. Aggressiveness is typical when a small colony is attacked. This would also explain the bee in your wife's hair. It would be worth a bit of time to ensure this is not robbing!
    Thank you! Forgive my ignorance, how will I know if they are being robbed? Will I notice fighting at the entrance? I have noticed about a dozen or so dead bees on the ground in front of the hive. What should I do if they are being robbed? I took the entrance reducer off during the last inspection hoping to help them ventilate a bit better.

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