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Hi everyone, I am a novice beekeeper in Subiaco, Arkansas. I currently have five hives, all inherited from a friend who recently moved away. I had an opportunity to learn and work with him, but am having a problem if you all wouldn't mind helping.

I have tried on two separate occasions to inspect one of my hives. I approach from the rear, smoke the entrance, pop the lid a bit and smoke it. On both hives I have attempted this, the top medium is empty, with no activity, no comb, only foundation. When I remove this hive, the bees in the second medium immediately attack. The first time, I smoked only the lid, but on the second attempt, I smoked the second medium as well, same reaction. I have a bee jacket which protects my upper body and head, but they are able to sting me through my jeans. Any advice? Another friend who is a beekeeper said the bees don't know my scent, that it will take time for them to be acustomed to my smell. Any validity to that theory? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

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Hi Arkie, welcome

Sounds like the could just be mean bees if you can call the guy that left them to you and get the low down on this hive

There is different reasons for them being mean
#1 There just mean hope not any AHB

#2 There under some kind of stress Parasite's like mites or hive Beatles could have caught them in the process of getting ready to swarm, No Queen and all you have is older bees which tend to be meaner than normal with out a queen. Hungary no feed in the hive,or they just don't like your smoker fuel.

Work slow and deliberate don't bam slam things, some bees are more meaner when Jarred or bang around on.

If you have a entrance feeder feed for a few days then try checking. Feed later in the evening so you don't get the bees trying to rob.
 

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Hi JJ,

There is a lot of difference in bee temperment that can be selected genetically. When you feel ready to try requeening look to get Queens from some program that has been in progress for a long time. I have some queens from Honeyrunapiaries (NWC) that are very gentle and productive.
In the meantime... more layers of clothing, plenty of smoke and perseverance.
 

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First, get a pair of white coveralls. You can get regular coveralls and sew up the access slots on the sides, or get a pait of beekeeping covies from a bee supplier. Good cowhide gloves and gauntlets and a veil that will stay put. What I am saying is cover up! Get your armour on! It is no fun to be stung. Tuck your covies into your boots if you wear boots, or tie them so the bees can't crawl up your leg if you wear shoes. Now if you have your armour in place:

Light the smoker. When you have a good lot of smoke, approach the hive from the rear and smoke the entrance. Give several good puffs. Then lift the lid a crack and puff some smoke in there. Now retreat a bit and watch the birds for about two minutes. Now go open the hive being careful to not bump or bang things. If your bees are still mean and agressive, there is some reason besides your presence. Requeening is good advice.

Bees are sometines cranky when there is a dearth of nectar. The field bees have nothing to do but sit around home and be cranky. To open a strong colony under these circumstances is inviting a fight. Since you said they are not working in the super, I suspect you may have a dearth of nectar.

Now and then you can get a queen that just produces mean bees.

There is always the possibility of some African genes in the mix.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all for your help. I had better success today. I don't own a suit or coveralls, but what I did to protect my legs was wear two pairs of jeans (having lost some weight, I had an old pair that fits easily over the newer pair). That, with my cowboy boots, protected my legs where I was stung over 20 times recently. The bee jacket I own has a built in veil, and I have heavy duty cowhide gloves. What i think I was doing wrong was smoking the entrance and under the lid, then immediately going in for the inspection. On your advice, and those of friends, I smoked both places, noticed an audible increase in buzzing. Once that subsided (after about two minutes), I opened the lid, and was able to remove frames for inspection. I still was getting buzzed by a few bees, but not nearly the number I had the other day. I will do a more complete inspection of my other hives later this week, but this seems to be progress in the right direction. Thank you again for your help! :thumbsup:
 
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