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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Throughout spring and summer, my colony was rather docile. We could handle the hive with minimal protection, and the bees were never really aggressive. In fact the only time I got stung was when a bee landed in between my fingers as I was closing my hand after we had finished an inspection, that happens.

All was well up until the colony kicked the drones out in October. I arrived home in the afternoon and it looked like the colony was being robbed. There was a lot of activity in front of the hive. I walked over to see what was going on and within 15 feet of the hive I was immediately made aware that my presence was not appreciated.
I suited-up and got close enough to watch the drone being evicted. It was kind of neat to observe, but the colony was very aggressive.
I chalked it up to the emotion of the event and let them do their thing.

Since that event, the colony has been down-right grumpy. When we get too close, they harass, get stingy and even escort us as we walked away from the hive.

Any ideas what may have changed?

Will they remain this aggressive?



Thanks All.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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There are a lot of different things that can turn an ordinarily docile hive aggressive. Queenlessness, mite pressure, robbing pressure, nocturnal visits by predators, etc. Sometimes they just get defensive because it is winter or a dearth. Make sure the colony has plenty of food and the entrance is reduced to at least the 4" opening. For your location, even the 3/4" opening might be better. Generally, the aggressiveness will disappear in the Spring once your flow starts. If the colony is still aggressive in April or May, you may want to consider requeening.
 
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6a 4th yr 9 colonies inc. 2 resource hives
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Time of year has a lot to do with it. From their perspective they are protecting themselves. I have Russians that have taught me a lot about being a better beekeeper. I built a quiet box and started using cover cloths in all my work. Now they are even easier to work with then the Italians. You can requeen next year as your last resort. Do everything else ahead of that like feeding, mite treatments, using robbing screens, use cover cloths and quiet box etc.

Let the lesson do its work. You will be better off for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for the information. I have a 3/4" opening on the hive. They were treated for mites in early September. I believe it was effective as there are plenty of bees in the colony in mid-December. I had just put some bee fondant in hive yesterday and noticed they were still really aggresisve. That is what peaked my interest. I do not know what a quiet box is or how to use a cover cloth.....so I have some research to do.

Again - Thank You both for your insight.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Briefly, a quiet box is nothing but a five frame nuc box that you put the frames into when you remove them from the hive during an inspection. Many people, myself included, typically just set the frame down next to the hive in the open. This can promote robbing in times of dearth and if the bees are tending to be aggressive, make the inspection less than an enjoyable experience. A cover cloth is like a flexible inner cover. You place it on the hive after removing the regular inner cover and peel it back to only expose the frames you are working with. This keeps the remaining bees calm.
 
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Roo, JWP is spot on for aggressiveness. Your wx has changed in the last week to warm and you have snow predicted for this weekend. The bees respond to weather changes sometimes with a little aggression. They do the same when they are hungry. (family in Hanover)
 

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One of the best reasons for using a quiet box is when leaning a pulled frame the queen can walk off or be knocked off as you can see in the image...I found her in/on the drawer of the neighboring hive that I had inspected. She and those attendants died.
Finger Nail Stain
 

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6a 4th yr 9 colonies inc. 2 resource hives
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Makes me ache just seeing the picture of the queen above. Protecting the queen is one of the reasons as Cloverdale mentions as well as keeping the colony calm. They live in protected darkness. When I find my queen I lift off the frame and into the quiet box she and the frame goes. This also keeps fewer bees in the air. Easy to build and a great winter project. Scott Hendricks on YouTube has a great video about how to build a quiet box and cover cloths.

I have very rudimentary carpentry skills and put mine together with a nuc box as a base. Mine is also painted black on the inside. I also have magnets on the outside for my hive tool. My cover cloths are flour sack oversize dish towels from BiMart. I cover all boxes taken off and also use cover cloths like I’m doing surgery on the box I’m inspecting. 3 is a good number. Highly recommended for hobbyists.
 
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