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Discussion Starter #1
Thanks for looking over my question.

As a brand new beekeeper, I enjoy watching the bee activity on a daily basis, and I am learning to read the bees. One of the things I enjoy most is to get closer to the entrance in the later evenings, and watch the bees returning with their haul. Most of the other bees seem to be in for the night, so this offers a nice way to get up close without alarming them too much.

My question:

If I'm merely standing near (not in front) of the hive entrance watching things, do I need to be concerned with a sting attack from other bees outside of the hive like the returning bees, or will the "guard bees" be the first to react, coming out from the hive itself? I've been under the assumption that the first defensive bees to react to me would be the guard bees that come from the hive, so I've really only been watching for fuzzy bee missiles coming at me and I thought I should see if I've just been lucky or if in fact the guard bees will be the first to react.

And along the same lines, can somebody give me an idea of how long the bees remain defensive on average? I did my second hive inspection the other day and later that evening when I went to do some bee watching, they seemed to buzz my face within moments, which was the first time that's happened, so I left. The following day things are pretty much back to normal, but I was wondering if there was a time limit for bees being pissed?


Thanks again,
b1rd
 

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So a good rule of thumb if you are going to approach your hives without any suit just to watch them is to not stand in front of the hive. 95% of the incoming and outgoing traffic are on the front side of the hive and if you stay out of that area they probably will not care. Bees track you via the carbon dioxide in your breath, which is why when detected, they go right for your face. Remember to always use smoke when inspecting, as not only does it make your scent and breath hard to track, but the bees cannot communicate their alarm pheromones to gang up on you. Also, stings leave a pheromone as well that tell other bees to attack that area, smoke interferes with this as well. If you are smoking them on a good, warm, sunny day (not cloudy and hot), their aggressiveness should be quite low unless there are circumstances that you do not know about going on.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply.

I do have my hive just a couple feet from an 8' fence in an effort to force them upwards if they go over towards my neighbor's house to forage, which seems to be working well. However, the bees have recently begun to forage from the opposite direction now, so they head towards the back of the hive when they exit and return pretty much the same way, and since I'm standing towards the rear corner watching, I do get a fair share of bees flying close to my head as they come and go, but I usually never get the impression the bees are upset.

Again thanks.

b1rd
 

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Most bees will not bother you, as long as you don't interfere with their normal flying.
But this really depends on the bee you got.

Some bees will consider you as interfering even 100 feet away for no particular reason.
Long ago my Dad owned such bees.
Working in the veg garden ways away was not possible on some days (dearth and such).
Just standing near the hives without any protection was risky.

Since you are in San Diego area, africanized bee influence are always a possibility.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
africanized bee influence are always a possibility.
Yes, I've also had a some experience with those as well.

My neighbor and I have four hives between us, me with one on my property which was a purchased Nuc. The others are wild colonies, two of which we caught during two cut-outs this Spring and one simply moved in.

A wild colony moved into an old 4-Deep hive body that had been left on his property by another beekeeper from a while back, which is partially what got us interested in bees in the first place. However, the hive body is so weathered and old that when we tried to inspect the frames, the frames just crumbled and honey oozed everywhere. Plus they are foundationless.

Long story short- it was exciting, but we had to cut things short because it was VERY thick with angry bees all over us. Bad enough that after we got things back together, we then had to walk just about two blocks away before we were free of bees. They continued to attack our head and faces the entire time and their efforts were impressive for sure.

That's why I say they were Africanized, and I don't know if they finally left us alone, or if they all died from stinging us. Actually, every time we've tried to do anything with that one hive, it's always an issue with pissed off bees that seem to remained pissed for a couple of days.

But it's a good learning experience and it's nice to have that as a gauge against the other hives and it's a huge difference. Plus the 'hot' hive is far enough away from the other two, that it's not really a bother if we leave it alone.

I'm not sure what he wants to do with it, but to me it almost sounds like doing a tricky bee removal, but I'm new so I'm not sure how to handle it. There's no way to find the queen in all of this. The bees get on us pretty fast once the inner cover is removed.

We did add a queen excluder for now and a Medium super to the wrecked hive in the hopes of letting things run their course while we gather honey and see what happens. Again, this hive is his, so his call.

Anyhow, thanks again. I was just boredom-rambling a bit.


b1rd
 

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Defensive behavior isn't necessarily because of Africanized bees. I plunked a bee tree with a baseball sized rock a long time ago from about 20 yards, before the Africanized bees happened. Must have looked like a classic cartoon with me running for dear life while a cloud of bees followed. Got nailed on top of the head by one. My brothers got a big laugh out of it. I was a long way away before getting stung.

Some are just more testy. Maybe re-queening them? I do wonder how much influence Africanized drones have in passing down defensive behavior. Good thing queens breed with lots of drones.
 
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