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Killing an Africanized hive but preserving the honey

10870 Views 41 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  BMAC
I live in South Texas along the coast. I went to investigate two colonies of bees in two old houses. One colony seem like normal bees. When I started pulling some siding away, foragers kept coming into the entrance and some bees came to investigate, but no real attempts to attack or sting. In doing a cutout on that colony.

In the back wall of the other house, I just moved a tree branch by the entrance and touched part of the rotted siding, and the hive exploded. Within 20 seconds the air was full of bees, and at least 50 covered my veil trying to sting, not to mention all those stinging my body suit and gloves. The guy that owns the houses was on the opposite side of the house and up wind with a very strong wind about 100 feet away. He had to jump in his truck and was stung a couple of times. I had to walk about half a mile up the dirt drive before the bees finally gave up the chase and i could get in the truck. I have never experienced a more agressive response from bees, so I have no doubt they are Africanized or some of the meanest bees on the planet.

Both houses are going to be demolished and the property used for commercial purposes, so they all have to go one way or another.

My question: If i use a sprayer with Dawn dish soap and water to kill the Africanized hive, will the capped honey be edible?

Will the soapy spray kill capped brood?

Can I take combs of capped brood from the mean hive and add it to the other cutout hive without risking turning that one aggressive?

How can two houses located 50 feet apart have such divergent personalities?

On a side note, after being attacked by the agressive hive, i went back to the entrance of the passive hive and they started acting aggressive, but nothing like the other hive.

Any input appreciated.

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Were you still wearing your suit full of stingers? They could probably sense the pheromones.
Once you're "tagged" with stingers even the most docile bees will take you on.

The soap will for sure kill the adults - the brood is toast if the adults are gone. The soap will probably impart a taste on the honey. You can just use plain water to get the bees off the combs and spray them with soapy water once they are on the ground. Depending on the cavity you can try using dry ice to suffocate them. I wouldn't try to save the brood - they will be just as pissy as the adults.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with trying to save the combs/honey. From the reaction you describe it is too much trouble. Just get the nice ones.
They are in the back wall of a rotting house. There are too many cracks and holes for dry ice. I can tear the wall completely apart since the house is being bulldozed anyway. My ventilated full bee suit offers great protection. I may just try spraying the flying ones with soap solution to manage the attack while exposing comb, and see what i have, and use plain water on the combs. I just wasnt sure if the soap solution would penetrate the capped honeycomb and ruin it. I just dont want to waste a wall full of honey if its there.
I don't imagine soapy water penetrating the capped honey. The issue would be spinning out the frames if you didn't cut out the capped honey for a crush and strain process.
Can one spray wasp nests with soapy water to kill them?
Yeah, but it might not be instant like it is with the aerosols. I have sprayed nest with latex paint and it is totally ineffective. However any oil base paint, mineral spirits or kerosene does the trick.
Yes, WBVC. They breath trough spiracles the same as bees, the soap suffocates them.

TX. could you use a shop vac to vacuum up most of the bees on the comb and use the soapy water to kill the others? Once you get the honey you want to save cut out you can go ahead and spray the rest of them. I'm pretty sure you could save some of the brood but, once those bees hatch out they are probably going to have a bad attitude. Hopefully you won't need any extra brood for the nicer hive.
Acebird: I'm a top bar guy, so definitely crush and strain or comb honey.

Johng: You read my mind. I have a big shop vac that will suck and kill. I also have a big blow torch flame thrower (normally used to burn prickley pear cactus) that i might try against the flying hordes. Might try to video flaming bees hitting the ground. ;) So i plan to have a full arsenal - fire, soapy water, and suction and will see what happens.

Can I take combs of capped brood from the mean hive and add it to the other cutout hive without risking turning that one aggressive?

Any input appreciated.

I would not ever consider using any of that capped brood in a hive. I would either burn it, bury it, drown it or freeze it.

Just my opinion.

Thats why i asked, so the brood will be disposed of in the solar wax melter.

Unless you've already had a very early strong spring flow it's hard to imagine there will be much "capped" honey to salvage from the hives. My hives are typically at their lowest weight in early spring. But, you are in Texas and I'm not familiar with your climate, so things may be quite different there.
We don't have much of a winter. The bees bring in pollen all winter long. I wont know till i get in there, but I did a cutout a month ago and got 5 gallons of honey from a relatively small hive. So I'm hoping for the best.
Wow, that's incredible. We're in a different world up here.

I wish you the best. Good luck with the mean one ..... no mercy. :D
Can't you save the bees and replace the queen. I have done this with africanized hives, then just replace the queen. If I'm getting stung pretty bad through my suit and it is not too hot out, wear jeans and a sweatshirt under your suit. They can sting my suit all day and never touch skin. They do get me with just a t shirt under the suit. Sometimes I wonder if those africanized bees have longer stingers than the others. LOL
If I had an extra queen, or somewhere close by to get one maybe. But given my craigslist ad has now generated 5 cutouts and I have 20 swarm traps out, I'm just not sure it's worth the effort. These bees are the most hostile colony I have ever encountered. I have been around some hot hives, but these are off the scale. I did nothing to them and literally had my veil covered with stinging bees. They poured out of the wall and chased my two friends into their trucks on the opposite side of the house, against a strong wind, and about 100 feet away. I had to walk about 300 yards down the drive before they ended the attack.

But if anyone else wants to come and get them, I'll let you have them.

They definately get my heart rate going while dealing with them
Twice Ive done colonies (in Hidalgo and Webb counties) that were 20 yards apart and like you described, one docile as can be, the other out for blood. I use a bee vac on both colonies, but for the agressive colony I closed off the intake so the vac would have more suction. The vac would suck up a bee 6 inches away from the hose. I turn on the vac and place the hose at the main entrance and gently tap on the structure. The vac does the majority of the job, sucking up the defenders pretty quick. As long as your suit and gloves are good, you can get the majority of the defensive bees sucked up in 20-30 minutes. They you can dismantle and remove comb. I wouldn't mind keeping the brood, if I knew the colony it was going to already had a queen, sure there would be some agressive ones, but they would be replaced in a few months anyway. Good luck. Heck, if you want some help, let me know, I'm not far away.
Some serious bees down there! You could also try it at night with a red light source. Bees can't see red.
I have done the shop vac trick on super aggressive cutouts. It works well. Make sure you have a good suit like an Ultrabreeze, or double up layers every where you can. They will come after you while you vacuum them up. If you can rig the hose near the entrance, you can stand back and junk rocks at the wall and let the vac take the brunt of it.
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