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Besides the obvious of being stung over and over is there a good way to read your bees and know if they have an aggressive personality or not?
 

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If its sunny and warm, and they chase you 100 feet, you might have an agg hive
If its windy and rainy and they chase you 100 feet, you might have an agg hive
If you crack the lid and they boil out the top stinging you, you might have an agg hive
If you put light smoke to them and they wont back down, you might have an agg hive
If they are so aggressive that they find every nook and cranny to sting you, you might have an aggressive hive
If you are attacked from 50ft away, you might have an aggressive hive

See where i am going with this?(thanks Jeff Foxworthy)
 

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in short, if they are aggressive in ideal conditions (sunny, not bothered by critters or pests, good nectar flow on, you are doing your part).

For some here, that means bees that you can work with no gloves and not be stung, zero bees buzzing you.

For others, that could mean a cloud of perturbed bees.

And everything in between.
 

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Previous comments are on target. And what is aggressive to one beek is a simple day in the apirary to another beek. Your call...
 

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I can tell you what gentle bees are. Today I opened a split in which I needed to get the queen cage out, so I could remove the cork. I put on a veil because the air was thick with bees, however I did not light a smoker. Picked up the queen cage, (bare hands) removed cork, and put her back. Not a sting not a bump.
 

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I get asked this question a lot, since there are a lot of AHB in my area.

My answer:

Remember when you were a teenager, and you asked your mama, "How will I know if it's really love?" And your mama answered, "If it is, you won't have to ask."

The bees are like that. You won't have ANY doubt in your mind if they are aggressive (actually, that's really hyper-defensive) and need to be handled with care.

The first time you find some really cranky ones, you will have a yardstick against which you can measure all other hives.

GL
summer
 

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Aggression changes with conditions! I have worked Africanized bees with just a veil (usually do in the Florida heat), I have suited up to work Italians in the rain. I have had a hive I usually didn't even use a veil with go crazy during an eclipse. The things I can control are the genetics with a new queen and behaviors by gentle deliberate manipulation, not squishing bees. Check out my latest pictures in the Gallery of Splits and Package Bees. We were scooping bees up in bare hands without any stings. Last year I did not wear a veil at the workshops and I could not convince the new beekeepers to either. This year I always wear a veil for the workshops. The bees are still gentle Cordovans and I still teach calm deliberate hive inspections. I have plenty of pictures at americasbeekeeper.com or .org Gallery and 2010_Gallery.
 
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