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Been a beekeeper one year, four hives. Lately when I go to work the hives one or two bees will follow be back to my patio which is anout 100 feet from the hives. They hang around and buzz me when I come back out. I tried to ignore them and got stung on the ear. If they sting my wife or our friends my bee keeping days will be over! What am I doing wrong? The hives were filled from local swarms.
 

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Go through each hive on seperate occasions and figure out which one is the culprit, then requeen it. Or requeen all four of them.
 

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If they sting my wife or our friends my bee keeping days will be over!
Ditch the problems and keep the bees. :D

Seriously, determine which of your four hives are hot. Then order new queen(s) and requeen the hot hives as soon as possible. I'd suspect AHB with any mean hive of local bees in your location (even in mine soon). With a new queen from a reputable breeder, your hives should tone down the hostilities quickly.
 

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Sorry, peggjam. You type faster than I do. At least we're giving the same advice.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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Try opening the hives gently with no smoke and see which one is defensive. Try running your hand over the top of the hive and see which one reacts. Once you determine the hot one, requeen and/or move it. If you want quick results, split it and requeen both halves.
 

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Some possible causes:

If you had marked queens, you may find that one
(or more) of the hives has superceeded, and you
now have an unmarked queen. Mongrel queens can
make for a nasty hive. Requeening would be
appropriate here.

You might find evidence of mammal harassment of
one of the hives (one that is away from the
others would be a logical choice for a mammal),
in which case requeening is NOT the solution,
eliminating the harassment is. Harassment by
yellowjackets can be just as bad, so also look
for non-bee insects around the hives.

You are in Santa Barbara. What's the AHB
situation there? Again, requeening would be
a good idea, but perhaps you'd want a bee
suit and gloves in consideration of this point.

Requeening is the most common solution, but
not the only one. Sometimes, bees are overly
defensive for very good reasons.
 
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