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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not sure what is going on but all of a sudden in the past two weeks my bee yard has gotten aggressive. Not all hives but a couple of them. I used to be able to go out with a t-shirt on and no gloves to work the bees. I used to be able to walk say 50 yards in front of my bee yard and watch the bees for 30 - 40 minutes before a bee would even pay attention to me.

Now, I get within 100 yards and I have a dozen or so around me.

I have about 18 hives, 8 are for honey production this year the rest are just building up for winter. Most of my bees are Italian or MN Hygenic.

They've built up really strong in most boxes, one or two a little weaker and I let them create their own queens. Wondering if the queens may have bread with some more aggressive bees.

I have a full blown bee suit and I just washed it to get any smells out of it from old stings that I may have had.

Any suggestions would be great if you have them.

BTW, current conditions has been 85 - 92 or so and humid and they are bearding quite a bit so I'm assuming that has something to do with it.

I'm getting to a point of just not rotating the bottoms and just going out and adding supers so they relax.
 

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What about pests at night, any skunks or racoons? Have you seen any sign? Something could be disturbing them in the night and making them more aggressive?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
None that I've seen. I don't see any scratch marks around the hives at all.

I've got an electric fence 5 strands around my bee yard. 1st strand is 6 inches off the ground.
 

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Up until this last week there was poor weather for the bees to forage. That made them a little testy. The last week has been good so they have calmed down some. Are they bringing in nectar for you? Did any of those hives swarm or are they queenless?
 

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I would go to each hive and tap on the side, the hive that runs out the most is the bad hive, get rid of that queen
Bob
 

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I had a hot hive a few years ago. I couldn't figure it out. I replaced the queen, tried to do a split, gave them more space, moved them to a different part of the yard (figuring maybe more or less sunlight would make them happy), but none of it worked.

A few weeks later I noticed the outside of one of the brood boxes was charred, like someone had tried to light it on fire. That confused me even more.

I ended up moving the bees out of that yard completely. A few months later I found out the aggressive hive killed the neighbor's dog. Apparently the black lab would wonder into my yard and mess with the hive. When the owner would find out his dog got stung, instead of stopping him from going onto my yard he would just go over and try and kill the bees. The combination made them aggressive and hot as heck. A sad situation that the dog eventually got stung so many times it had to be put down.

Once I moved them to the new yard, cut down their size by doing a split, and requeened, and they did just fine.
 

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None that I've seen. I don't see any scratch marks around the hives at all.
Try setting a live trap in the bee yard and see if you catch anything.(***** love marshmellows)
 

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Good advice so far. But I have to ask about the distance. They are coming at you when you are 100 yards (lenght of a football field) away? Thats Hot!! Reason I am asking is if this distance is correct I need to make a mental note, I have never experianced bees coming at you from that far away.
 

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just in relation...my 89 yr old 'mentor' asked me to help him move a hive.When I got there he told me which 1.I put on a turtleneck t-shirt&sweats to go under my full suit.We stopped 150' from the hive to suit up.we got out &were greeted by the bees.Can you picture an 89yr old beating me back in the truck?We moved a good 100yds away&still had a cpl check us out.They ended up 30 miles in the woods.I did make a split off of them.It was also mean.I put it in a watermelon patch where the migrant workers dug in my super last year&took 2 frames of honey.Any takers they don't get in it this year?They hit like hornets&make honey like a hive twice their size
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all the help.

I'm going in today to see if I can make sense of which hive is bad. It will be warm fully covered but if I can find the one I will move it.

75' yards for sure I get two or three but that's only if I am straight in front of the hives. If I come in from the sides or back, typically it takes them a little while before they get charged up.

I'm going to check and see if I have a queenless hive. I'm guessing that may be the issue. I don't see any skunks or ***** in the yard and no signs at all of it.
 

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I let them create their own queens. Wondering if the queens may have bread with some more aggressive bees.

Any suggestions would be great if you have them.

I'm getting to a point of just not rotating the bottoms and just going out and adding supers so they relax.
The POINT is that you have NO control over the drone stock. It has been my experience that I usually end up with some pretty HOT bees when I let them raise their own queens.

What's wrong with hot bees ? Some people like their bees pretty hot. It makes them feel like they are not a SISSY. After all, they are real SURVIVORS ! Maybe even a black bear wouldn't mess with them.

Chances are the lower brood chamber is mostly empty ( under-utilized ). If you weren't afraid of the bees you might be able to find out. I don't blame you for being afraid of them ! If they were mine I would requeen with commercial queens. You will have gentle bees again. Ones you can work without a veil.
 

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>The POINT is that you have NO control over the drone stock. It has been my experience that I usually end up with some pretty HOT bees when I let them raise their own queens.

But you do. First, you can let your bees raise all the drones they like. Second, you can give stock to your neighbors that is the stock you want. Queen breeders have SOME control, just not complete control. I have very gentle bees and they all raise their own queens.
 

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The point is well taken that beeks who have many colonies can have some impact on the drone stock by "flooding the zone" with gentle stock. Presumably, this is how commercial breeders get gentle stock.
This is hardly feasible for beeks with just a few colonies and few nearby beeks.
I agree that it is good to let the bees have plenty of drone comb.
There may be some difference in what a hobbiest beek ( like me ) and honey producer would regard as "very gentle". I started a colony in early May ( Kelley - Hardeman bees ). I have inspected it about 5 times with no veil or gloves - one sting. It is a REAL JOY to have bees that are not aggressive !
 

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Several folks alluded to it, but it was not discussed. My experience is that one hot hive that makes a lot of honey is doing it by robbing the others.

This robbing behavior gets them all in a tizzy and so the whole yard will become defensive just because one is behaving badly.

This is the unusual case where one bad apple really does spoil the whole bunch.

Sometimes it is difficult to find and reverse the problem. You have to reduce entrances and put robber screens on and try to figure out which one is misbehaving.

Once you figure out who is misbehaving, I like to move it to an isolated yard (then I usually use it for splits and ditch the queen).

Some say just requeening it works, but I have seen them either be too mean to accept a new queen sometimes, or sometimes even after accepting a new queen, they still don't calm down. For me, it is best to just break them up into small nucs and requeen each piece. Usually once broken down into small nucs, they will lose their defensiveness, and be more gentle once the new queen is laying.
 

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I've had two hives go hot.

The first was a Russian hive that was queenless for much of the summer because I interrupted its supercedure process, then was slow to learn how to requeen it. Once it went to laying workers, it survived a long time but wasn't good for anything but being mean.

The second was this summer. It was a Hygenic Italian grown from a package last year, which I believe learned to be mean by robbing out my dead-outs this spring. Michael Bush has instructions for dealing with a mean hive on his web page, and I found them extremely helpful in this case. I was able to requeen two of the resulting splits from Russian walk-away splits I'd happened to start the week before. The other two have the original mean queen and one of her daughters. Three of the four are still a bit hot, but could still have bees from the original colony. If they're still hot this weekend I will know it's time to make further modifications to the gene pool.
 
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