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Discussion Starter #1
Well.. I got my first sting today right behind my ear in the hair line. 30days as a newbie beek.

I have noticed that as my 2 hive grows, the bees seem to be more testy and will bump into my head to move away. 1-2 will now often follow me a good 100ft before finally clearing out. Since I'm new to this, Im trying to figure out what normal behavior is. One of my swarms is wild and I worry I have some AHB genetics in there. I cant really tell which hive these bumpers are coming from but my gut says the wild swarm.

Today, one was bumping me to leave and I guess I didn't move fast enough. I was being patient and moving back and got about 40ft from the hive and she was still bumping me and then she got tangled in my hair right behind my ear at which point, it felt like she was climbing into my ear and I lost it, panicked and attempted to remove/swat/dance in circles and got stung.. que rico!

I thought I was getting cool enough to skip the veil unless I was really digging into the hives but guess not quite.

Question for the team -- what is normal behavior for bees for following? If they were AHB, would I have seen a big different from the start I got the very first swarm?

Other data that may or may not be useful:

My wild hive went queenless and when I checked 7 days ago, there were 2 queen cells that appeared to be at the verge of hatching. Bush's bee math tells me that they probably hatched 6-7 days ago. I figured I would give the new queen 2 weeks before checking in on her. Is that enough time before checking in or her? Frankly, Im dying to go look for her but I suspect I'm responsible the hive went queenless in the first place so Im trying to do less inspections. The previous queen was rocking and rolling and then a week after that inspection, there were no eggs and 2 queen cups. boo.
 

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You have two hives. Are they both from swarms or local feral hives? Always wear a veil until you know the demeanor of your hives and the characteristics of a good day vs. a bad day to them, not you. AHB will get meaner as population grows. Mob mentality, think about that as time goes by. And where is your smoker at ??
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Dan- Yes. 2 hives. One feral swarm and one from a texas supplier. Got them both on June 1st.

Both seem to be about the same temperament and have generally been very gentle when I inspect.

Today I was just observing and so i didn't put on a veil or get the smoke out. Im hoping this was just a lost bee that also panicked when she got in my hair.
 

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The bees will get more defensive as the hive grows but only a little bit. Having a drop in the amount of nectar available or stop feeding will make them defensive. Your bees are behaving like normal European bees.

Africacanize have a large pack mentality and go after you in mass. I have found two wild AHB hives and just walking towards them 30 to 40 feet away caused then to amp up their buzzing. It quieted down as I backed away.

I Wear a veil. I also don't use smoke unless I must complete a task. Like a split or harvesting honey from my top bar hives.
 

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I thought I was getting cool enough to skip the veil unless I was really digging into the hives but guess not quite.
I've been keeping bees since the 90s and offer 2 pieces of advice to EVERY newbee: Wear a veil every time you open a hive and ALWAYS light your smoker. You may not need either one once you get into the hive, but once you get in there and DO need them, it is too late then to fix the problem. Bee stings in your eyes are nothing to risk when a veil is so easy to put on, and smoke can save you from unexpected problems. It has saved my ***** many a time.

JMO

Rusty
 

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The dearth in our area has started so expect a little testyness for next 2 months. Sounds like the feral colony is doing what the bees want in getting a new leader. Give her time to mate and start her new home.
Always wear a veil and always have a well lit smoker nearby. Especially in our area of Texas.
 

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Out of my 5 hives the one that is much more aggressive is also a better producer when it comes to pounds of honey. My hot hive is two 8 frame mediums ahead of the other hives at this time.
 

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RE-QUEEN ASAP!!!! SERIOUSLY....... I've had Africanized bees for nearly a year. I got them from a removal I did. Let me just say that you probably do not know if they they are Africanized until they get more established and you go into the bee hive. You will note a few things. 1st off between a NON Africanized bee hive VS that is deemed Hot. Non Africanized bees will come out at you and in numbers ranging from 100 to 300 perhaps. You can do what ever it is you need to. Sure the bees are stirred up. Put everything back and walk away the bees stay at the bee hive. High percentage of Africanized hybrid bees will follow you and continue to follow you. The only way I got them off of me is to weave in and out of Oak Trees. In edition you can get a hose and spray water in the air and they will leave. Simulate rain and get into the house. Air dry your bee suit on a hanger.
2nd test that will confirm high percentage of Africanized DNA in bees is when they get established and grow the defense area they cover extends about twice that of the Non Africanized bees. They have twice the number of guard bees and twice the distance of that of non Africanized bees. This will be a problem is you live near your bee hives VS having them in a field in an unpopulated area. I killed half my bee hive last fall due to this and not being able to obtain a queen. 3rd thing is you literally will not be able to approach the bee hive area with out being suited up. Can't even observe them at 40yds away. The second you create any vibration on the bee hive/stand, you'll see in 2.5 seconds bees flying out and in about 10 seconds you'll have thousands of bees in the air You'll notice they go for the CO2 your exhaling. You'll smell the pheromones they off put. My non Africanized Hot Hive never put off the scent. You'll note that your gloves are being stung. It's rather disturbing that they are unpredictable. Sometimes I could do things around the bee yard and other times I could not. If you lift your lid up the bees will immediately take flight at your face/air.
Precautions!!! If you have a suspicion of Africanized bees, DO NOT TAKE IT FOR GRANITE!!!! PREPARE! Have a plan if something goes awry. Animals and other people are the major concern for protection. What are you going to do if they start attacking? My plan was get a ice cooler of soapy water and toss the frames into it killing the hive pretty quickly.
Have Benedryl on hand. Dress more then you normally would. Layers and I wore boots with duct tape. on my boots/trousers full bee suit and gloves. Have a place of safety to go to. Truck/car/home. You can't really just call the fire dept as they are not protected.
I HIGHLY suggest you get your bee hives requeened and not let the chance of them being Africanized bees spread the DNA. I can't tell you how I tried everything to not kill that bee hive and it ended in me killing the bee hive. It's just not worth it. Re-queen now before the bee hive is large and out of control. You also can find the queen a lot easier now VS later on. I got my queens from wildflowermeadows.com in California. They have VHS Queens and my bee hives are pretty calm now.
How I suggest you requeen successfully is to tape the end of the sugar plug and in 4 or 5 days manually release the queen and the attendants. My queen in the Africanized bee hive was killed because the bees at the candy plug prior to the bees accepting her. Aggressive problem bee hives have this problem of too early of a time frame of release by the sugar candy plug.

Good luck! Mean bees is all I knew for nearly a year. Baptism of learning about beekeeping in the worst way first.
 

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Eh, both last year and this year I was watching a new package from far enough away and I got stung on the ear. Both years! Bumped my head a few times and followed me. I've had several bees follow and wouldn't leave me alone in the past, too.

Just yesterday I was standing 2 feet from the hives, and stuck my finger on the entrance just to see how testy they were. They couldn't even care less. No bumping my head, totally ignoring me.

They seem to be pretty fickle, and can be totally nice one day, and mean suckers the next.
 

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A dearth will assuredly make a reasonably docile hive seem africanized. Here we have no africanized hives, but once the dearth starts, you'd swear they were.
Most days I can mow right under my hives with my big ole 22 hp riding lawn mower without one single issue. Once the dearth hits.... I can barely walk outside the back yard without a girl or two head butting me.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I appreciate all of the good feedback and perspectives.. Based on all the feedback, I don't think I have AHB but will keep observing. I think they were having a bad day. The bee that stung me was the only one that was following me. The colony was possibly queenless at the time (within a day of queen cells hatching) . It was a bit windy that day which can contribute to grumpiness. I think the dearth is also contributing - The following day I put out some sugar water and they were less grumpy the day after.

@ frustrateddone -- I really appreciate your feedback on the AHB. Your situation sounded terrible. Mean bees aren't fun. I'm not quite ready to spend 50$ on having a queen shipped to me quite yet. I will watch them closely and requeen if things start get dicier. At least I have 2 hives to compare against.
 

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I've been keeping bees since the 90s and offer 2 pieces of advice to EVERY newbee: Wear a veil every time you open a hive and ALWAYS light your smoker. You may not need either one once you get into the hive, but once you get in there and DO need them, it is too late then to fix the problem. Bee stings in your eyes are nothing to risk when a veil is so easy to put on, and smoke can save you from unexpected problems. It has saved my ***** many a time.

Rusty

If I had a nickel for every time I've read this on the forum.... and I only joined here a month ago. To me it's the most important piece of sage advice I've gotten since starting. I just don't get it. It takes me all of 30 seconds to stuff a bit of pine needles into the smoker, light it, puff it a few times to check that the smoke is cool, throw on the veil and walk to the hive. Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared. Has saved my ***** many a time!
 

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I've been keeping bees since the 90s and offer 2 pieces of advice to EVERY newbee: Wear a veil every time you open a hive and ALWAYS light your smoker. You may not need either one once you get into the hive, but once you get in there and DO need them, it is too late then to fix the problem. Bee stings in your eyes are nothing to risk when a veil is so easy to put on, and smoke can save you from unexpected problems. It has saved my ***** many a time.

JMO

Rusty
Great words of wisdom. No need to listen to some folks or watch youtubes and think you have to "be cool" and not wear a veil, or gloves, or use a smoker. Every hive is different and even different on any given day. Do what works for you. Take less time to put on a veil and light your smoker then it takes to get over a bee in your ear or a sting between your eyes.
 

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oh man, for whatever reason when they get in your hair it's all over. I don't know if an instinct kicks in to sting or if they just panic or what. It's why even if I skip the veil (I know, I know, don't yell at me ;) ) I always always wear a hat, even if it's just a baseball hat or whatever.

Mine only bump me if I'm standing in their way and only follow me if I'm holding something they want.
 

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It is instinctive. They think it is a bear and each bee that has the opportunity must sting and not give up their life in vain. Semi trapped in the hair triggers that instinct and that way every bee in that situation is going to try to sting. A concentrated attack may deter the bear, where as a wimpy "maybe I will sting" will certainly fail and likely doom the hive to destruction.
 

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NE side of Houston here. Took the top box off my Warre hive yesterday---full suit and smoker lit. They pretty much left me alone but did have some insistent "bonkers/bumpers", but nothing unusual. I think the smoke disoriented them quite a bit, which is what I wanted anyway. No "banana" smell noted (attack pheromone). Closed up the hive and left the apiary---no followers. Yes, I was soaking wet afterwards, but I've been doing this 3 years now and have not been stung yet. Maybe it's overkill with a full suit and smoker every time but I think it's better than getting stung if they are in a particularly "witchy" mood. I've experienced both moods with this particular hive.
 

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How full are your hives, and are you making sure that they have adequate ventilation? Do they have enough room to grow and are they bringing in enough resources? Perhaps someone or something is harassing them in the off hours. Perhaps you have been inspecting them too often or crush too many of them when replacing boxes/covers.

Bees will get testy for various reasons, but I'd start with the most probable and easiest things to fix first. Just don't over or under think it and do your research before you attempt a fix. Could be simple, might be harder to remedy, but often it 'can be' dealt with. Good luck!!
 

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Have close to 50 hives and can't imagine starting some serious inspecting without first lighting a smoker and donning both gloves and a veil but I prefer a jacket. Sure there are them days when they seem like tame kittens but then there are them days when one or two will roar and tell you to go away. Got stung a lot last week. Was sunny then thick clouds back n forth constantly and it made the bees moody.
 

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I can tell you - being from the area - Tallow flow is over - the bees brooded up really hard for this and now all those old field bees have nothing to do but to protect the honey they collected - Also I was in my hives last week and the queens have all but shut down due to the honey flow stopping.
Now on another note - the AFB statement on here - I have worked these bees. If they fly through the smoke trying to get to you by the 100s - then its re-queen time. If not - your bees are just good old south Texas bees waiting for fall
 
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