Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a couple of old supers (from first owner of the bees) that were pretty rotted out and decided to replace them. I bought some lumber and made new boxes and painted them. It was a pretty nice morning on Wednesday. I waited till I saw bees coming and going from the entrance and suited up and lit my smoker. I knew (even with my normally docile bees) that moving the brood frames would probably anger them so I put on the gloves this time.

Removing the honey supers brought angry buzzing and lot's of head butting. I should have just put the supers back on and walked away. However I knew that I only had to move 10 frames. Huge mistake!!!

The first three frames brought six stings through my bee suit. I went into the house and took a shower and removed any stings from myself and my suit. The suit had several dozen stingers in it. I washed and dried the suit then went back out. The shower and clothes washing did nothing I was immediately attacked in force upon getting within 10 feet of the hive. At the time I thought I just had a "hot" box. I moved a few more frames, taking stings through my bee suit the whole time. I gritted my teeth and pressed on moving frame by frame.

Now I've been keeping bees for three years and in that time I've only gotten one sting up till now. I've done cut out's, pulling brood comb from RV's and attic's etc. I've caught swarms. I've even captured feral bees. Never have I dealt with bees this aggressive or angry before.

Usually if my bee's got a little stirred up I would simply walk away from the hive about ten or fifteen feet and they would settle down after awhile and I could get back to work. That trick didn't work this time. These angry bees followed me through the woods and even into my barn stinging all the way.

I know that requeening is the recommended action in these cases. However I can't imagine holding the frames in front of me calmly and finding her with literally hundreds of bees attacking me at the same time, especially with a surprising number of stings making it through my bee suit. I ran into the house and removed as many of the stinging bees from my suit as I could. Then I fished my phone out and sent a text message to my family warning them of the danger. Our bees are usually about 200 feet from our house. Fortunately they were all out.

I have children, elderly, and animals on the property with the bees. I decided this time around the prudent course of action was to burn the aggressive hive. I carried the boxes to a clearing, getting stung every step of the way, and piled them up and burned them. When I went back in I pulled one stinging worker off my arm and put her in a zip lock bag and froze her.

I had hoped to build up to four hives this year but I am down to just one. I am not sure if it's aggressive or not, still working up the courage to go back out there.

The doctor counted 22 stings about my back, shoulders, left arm, and left leg. He gave me Benadryl and sent me home and told me to rest for three days. I've had a few nightmares and I am a little gun shy from bees now.

Don't know if these were Africanized or not but demonstrated the behaviors that I've read about AHB.

If I stay in beekeeping I'll probably requeen all my hives every other spring or so.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,943 Posts
If they were AHB you would have gotten stung more than 22 times sounds more like bees in a dearth or skunks or some type of predator are harassing them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,231 Posts
Yeah, doesn't sound like AHB. Don't take this the wrong way, but I think you probably overreacted and could have saved this colony. One such encounter isn't enough (at least for me) to take such action. I've had some really nasty bees and have never resorted to burning them - I felt like it at times, but resisted the urge. This is the time of year when bees can get VERY defensive. You really need to have your smoker skills down. The fact that you said "so I put on the gloves this time" suggests to me that you have very little experience dealing with big colonies during peak summer populations in Virginia. I would never attempt to work a big colony at this time of year without gloves, good protective gear, and a well-charged smoker. If you're not around forage colonies will be extremely defensive - its like a switch has been flipped, even within the span of a week. You did what you felt was needed given your situation, and no one will criticize that, but I'd suggest that in the future, you simply walk away for a day or two and come back with smoker going well. Do not even touch the colony (don't even lay your hive tool on the lid) until you've smoked the entrance and given it time to move through the colony. The prudent thing would have been to call the bee inspector and have them come out and investigate. That's their job, and if indeed it turned out as AHB, then they could dig into this deeper.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,305 Posts
Next time break the hive down into the smallest viable components. Small hives will be much easier to work, and you make increase at the same time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,373 Posts
Honestly, why would their continent of origin, determine whether or not they are worth keeping?

If they are more defensive than you prefer, depending on any extraneous circumstances affecting their behavior (queenlessness, dearth, harassment of predators, etc.), as has been mentioned. You would need no other factor to determine their fate, than that. Certainly, if they originated in Europe, Africa, or anywhere else, should carry no weight in deciding their fate.

- - - - - - - - - -
I too am of the opinion that you may have responded severely and prematurely to the unfortunate behavior of your bees. However, only you can decide that for yourself. It is only my opinion, achieved with limited data.

I wish to also explain, that it is easier to eliminate the resident bees by dosing them with soapy water. The equipment can then be rinsed out and dried, then reused.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
203 Posts
First thing I would suggest is to get a new ventilated bee suit. It's much easier to work HOT bees when you're not getting stung. I recently requeened the the most aggressive hive I have ever had and they were stinging everything but did not penetrate my suit. I had to spray my veil with DEET so I could see because the bees were so thick. I am convinced this hive was the victim of a usurpation. This hive went into winter very docile and transitioned to a monster in Spring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,951 Posts
I think that everything has been said already, I would just add that your feeling of dread at returning to inspect a bee hive is not abnormal. I have had a hive or two that was defensive when it got big and strong. A new beekeeper who was there on one of those days later reported that he didn't like my bees very much and would not go back a second time. I didn't notice you mentioning smoke, make sure you do what Astrobee recommended aboute smoke. Effective use of smoke is an art. Give them another chance! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
First thing I would suggest is to get a new ventilated bee suit. It's much easier to work HOT bees when you're not getting stung. I recently requeened the the most aggressive hive I have ever had and they were stinging everything but did not penetrate my suit. I had to spray my veil with DEET so I could see because the bees were so thick. I am convinced this hive was the victim of a usurpation. This hive went into winter very docile and transitioned to a monster in Spring.
Do you have a link to your bee suit supplier?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
I had a couple of old supers (from first owner of the bees) that were pretty rotted out and decided to replace them. I bought some lumber and made new boxes and painted them. It was a pretty nice morning on Wednesday. I waited till I saw bees coming and going from the entrance and suited up and lit my smoker. I knew (even with my normally docile bees) that moving the brood frames would probably anger them so I put on the gloves this time.
If you commonly find that moving brood frames "angers" your bees, something isn't right there. Maybe you are rough handling your bees and don't realize it. I am harder on equipment than other people, it's my nature I guess.

I think you need more experience using smoke. You didn't mention anything about smoking your hive, other than to write that you lit your smoker.

Only one sting in three years tells me you need more experience working bees. Instead of walking away next time, stick in there and calm the bees w/ some smoke.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,869 Posts
If you commonly find that moving brood frames "angers" your bees, something isn't right there. Maybe you are rough handling your bees and don't realize it. I am harder on equipment than other people, it's my nature I guess.

I think you need more experience using smoke. You didn't mention anything about smoking your hive, other than to write that you lit your smoker.

Only one sting in three years tells me you need more experience working bees. Instead of walking away next time, stick in there and calm the bees w/ some smoke.
Im with Mark on this one. One sting in 3 years.... Anyway, It was probably like a previous poster said. Its a dearth, something was harrassing the hive. I dont mean to sound trite, but, destroying a hive after one bad encounter, seems drastic to say the least. I think maybe next time you should put the top back on, and wait for a better day. I had a hive get super defensive on me 3-4 weeks ago one day. About a week after they had been saved from a robbing attack. Got stung 6-7 times without even pulling the inner cover. I went through the entire hive this weekend without a sting. Next time I would recommend, walking away and thinking what could be the cause. You did say they were "normally docile". Good luck in future endeavors. G
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If they were AHB you would have gotten stung more than 22 times sounds more like bees in a dearth or skunks or some type of predator are harassing them.
Could be. This is the first time I've dealt with aggresive bees like this. 22 was what made it through my bee suit. I removed many, many, more from the suit itself that didn't get to me inside.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,869 Posts
I think Astrobees post sums it up for Virginia this time of year. All hives are more defensive now. Let us know what the lab finds on the frozen sample. Good Luck. G
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,869 Posts
Thank you everybody for your thoughtful replies. I expect this is just something I will learn from and move forward. I am still keeping bees for the moment.
Dont let one bad experience ruin it for you if you really enjoy it. If you decide to get out, someone will gladly buy your equipment. G
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
Yeah, doesn't sound like AHB. Don't take this the wrong way, but I think you probably overreacted and could have saved this colony. One such encounter isn't enough (at least for me) to take such action. I've had some really nasty bees and have never resorted to burning them - I felt like it at times, but resisted the urge. This is the time of year when bees can get VERY defensive. You really need to have your smoker skills down. The fact that you said "so I put on the gloves this time" suggests to me that you have very little experience dealing with big colonies during peak summer populations in Virginia. I would never attempt to work a big colony at this time of year without gloves, good protective gear, and a well-charged smoker. If you're not around forage colonies will be extremely defensive - its like a switch has been flipped, even within the span of a week. You did what you felt was needed given your situation, and no one will criticize that, but I'd suggest that in the future, you simply walk away for a day or two and come back with smoker going well. Do not even touch the colony (don't even lay your hive tool on the lid) until you've smoked the entrance and given it time to move through the colony. The prudent thing would have been to call the bee inspector and have them come out and investigate. That's their job, and if indeed it turned out as AHB, then they could dig into this deeper.
x2
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
203 Posts
Ventilated suits are now sold by most major suppliers. Ultabreeze and Goldenbee are made here in the US and sold directly. Most bee equipment suppliers sell imported suits which are cheaper. Plenty of testimony available about various brands on these forums. I have an Ultrabreeze full suit, a Goldenbee jacket and a Blue Sky jacket. Have no complaints about any of them. The Ultrabreeze is my "go to" suit for hot bees.
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top