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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have three top bar beehives with solid bottom and end entrance, they are located down the road not far from my house, all three beehives have colonies I caught in my swarm traps. Last week when I visited the hives a noticed a bunch of bees flying around in circles and buzzing in front of one of the hives, Today I visited the beehives to put an entrance reducer on that particular hive(the other two already have reducers) there were only about three bees at the entrance, as soon as I my hand and entrance reducer became visible to the bees at the entrance a large number of bees started pouring out of the hive! about twenty five rushed to my head hitting my veil and buzzing aloud. I went ahead and placed the reducer at the entrance, at this point I had "tons" of bees hitting my head and torso and a bunch of bees were outside the entrance very agitated and buzzing. I backed away from the hive about forty feet with about twenty bees following me hitting my veil and buzzing the entire time, I stood still and calm for what seemed a long time and the bees continued to be aggressive, I walked back to the beehive and some more bees flew towards me. I backed away from the hive and walked over to my truck and stood there for a long time waiting for the bees to go away until I finely decided to quickly get in my truck and drove away in my bee suite. Any thoughts or suggestions from experienced beekeepers?
 

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I have noticed with my own bees that any sort of tinkering with the entrance or entrance reducer really brings an aggressive response. If the hive was being robbed that may explain aggressive behavior also. Perhaps they are momentarily queenless or just having a bad day. I'd give them another chance and some more time...

I had a hive like that an ordered a new queen, when she arrived I went into the hive and they were quite calm and had to squish a new virgin queen. I wish I had waited longer.

P.S. I'm somewhat experienced.
 

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You are in FHB territory, Top bar hives are generally fairly high off the ground but I will ask anyway. Is the hive close enough to the ground that a skunk could be bothering them at night?
robbers usually don't get them fired up toward beekeepers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for responding dynemd, I suspect that robbing is taking place, it appeared that after the entrance was reduced there was some fighting going on at the entrance. I'll do an inspection tomorrow to search for the queen. To see if robbing is going on what should I look for? Thanks
 

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To see if robbing is going on what should I look for? Thanks[/QUOTE]

lots of dead bees from fighting, lower population in the hive if your lucky and have any or more than a few left. empty honey comb. at some point the robbed hive may give up and join the robbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Tenbears, the hive's entrance is about 14 " off the ground. There isn't a lot of honey in the hive, the colony has only been in the hive for about 8 week. Yes there were definitely FIRE UP and that's my concern a literally had to "escape"
 

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I don't mind the ones that just bump so much but hate the ones that are immediately glued to you trying to sting through your jacket and veil. You say there isn't much honey, are you in a dearth? They can get cranky in a dearth especially when stores are low.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Checked on the hive this morning, bees appeared to be doing okay, I didn't have my bee suite on so I looked from a few feet away. I observed some bees bringing pollen in, they were coming and going.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Bad news, went to the hive this evening, put my protective gear on, walked up to the hive and opened the top. They rapidly attacked a good number of them bumping my hood pretty hard, got stung on my ear, I retrieved to my truck while they aggressively followed after waiting a while I quickly got in my truck a couple of bees got in but got out when I opened my window. What to do next?....Please advice...
 

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Weren't you just in them yesterday ? Give em a week or so to settle down and If you still don't like them pinch the queen and give em a new one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes I was there yesterday, today I was not planning on pulling any frames, all I did was opened the top to retrieve my hive tool. I didn't think that would provoke them to attack me. I'm glad I was wearing my protective gear it save me from getting stung multiple times. I will take your advice to give them more time...Thanks
 

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Are you using a smoker, or at least spraying them down with a water mist? Smokers are for their protection as well as yours: they are going to disembowel themselves trying to sting you so try something to calm them down first.
 

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Hoss, as a fellow Texan Beekeeper, I would advise you re-queen any swarm you capture, and re-queen again each season due to africanized bees. I understand you are probably going through a dearth, as I am up here where I am at, but I would be careful. I know bees get defensive during a dearth, but I personally don’t mess around when I comes to “mean” bees. I have determined my comfortabilty level with defensive bees. I guess everyone has a different point/threshold, but there is a point when you really need to think about safety, of course for you, but mainly for the curious passerby.This time of the year I try to only inspect every 2-3 weeks and make those inspections count.

I've never witnessed robbing before, so I can't really add to what has already been advised. Take care.
 

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I just dealt with a mean hive yesterday while doing splits. I saved it for last because I know its a very defensive hive. I had no problems until I got to this one, I opened it up and the tornado began!! I was getting hammered and they were trying to find every way into my veil they could and I even took a couple stings to a small area of exposed skin!! I fought through it and split them up big time putting my grafted queen cells in each split. I tried my darndest to find the queen but she is like a ninja and disappears into thin air!! I made a split of her hive earlier in the spring because they were nasty, and the new queen is awesome and that hive is mello.

Anyhow, I would order a queen and when she arrives, kill the mean queen and requeen. Keep her caged for atleast 4-6 days and let the bees really take to her, then let them release her.

Goodluck and I to don't take to mean hives lightly, bumping is normal, but trying aggressively to cover you, not cool at all!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for replying, "tornado began", "getting hammered" and "trying to find every way into my veil" is a good description of the behavior of my bees. This my first year. I don't feel safe working with this hive, considering the advice given looks like queen replacement is my best option. Any suggestions a where to order a queen from?
On the positive side my other two hives appear to be doing okay, I have another hive on my back yard and it is doing good as well.
Thanks.....Hossbee.
 

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look for a queen breeder further north also not south florida. you do not want a queen mated with afrianized drones. I would suggest California or mid-south.
 

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not to take away from the OP, but i have seen the same thing. i have 1 colony here, but a biddy has 12 that i help with. Sunday i went over to help add supers and got stung 17 times (both hands) just from 1 colony. all i did was pick up a box. i left him with it.

my bees on the other hand are so docile. i just pulled 5 frames Saturday with nothing more than a smoker. they will land in my hand and buzz around, no problems. let me say this, i also sit out in the backyard, not too close 5-10 ft. depending on the day, and talk to them. i like too watch them land and take off. i talk too them when i am working them also. and no, i am not crazy. what gives???
 

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robsdac... your bees know and recognize you. I know this sounds crazy but they know you. see bee behavior research from the university of Montana at Missoula. not only do they know you as an indivdual but they can be trained. I saw a fantastic video and a seminar at last years empire honey producers meeting. we have no idea how they do it given their brain size.
 

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All my bees are mean. they are all feral swarms that have obviously survived.
I always work my bees fully suited and gloved. i just don't like stings.
Their attitudes seem to change throughout the season too or maybe i have them trained. earlier not bad, some times it is necessary to use the smoker and smoke them down furiously.
sometimes i might get 100-200 stings in my suit from one hive.

I have noticed though, the more i work them the less aggressive they seem to be. at the moment i can open the inner cover without a whoosh of bees covering me.

I guess i am just letting them be bees, they work hard and seem to keep pests away.
 
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