Closing-up a handful of hives during the night and opening them one at a time in the morning - more-or-less as Kilocharlie has just described - is a method I've used in the past for identifying which hive had developed either over-defensiveness or following. My hives have screened bottoms, so that sealing-up the entrances has become a non-issue. I've only ever opened the suspect hives one at a time, and around half an hour apart. (I've never bothered re-sealing them once some bees are out)Have any of you tested your colony for aggressive defensiveness? What method worked for you?
How many bees hitting your hand do you consider as a lot?Open the hive and run your hand a couple of inches over the top of the hive. If a lot of bees hit your hand, they are defensive. If they are pouring out of the hive and you can't see out of your veil, they are VERY defensive.
Agreed, they usually follow you before they get aggressive. Starts with only one or two bees. I will give the usual make sure they are not being bothered advice.or following.
This part I never understand.....Open the hive without smoke....If the girls are sitting on the top of the bars looking at you, they are not defensive. If a tornado of bees erupts from the hive and your veil is being pelted by bees, they are defensive.
That is precisely the reason I suggested not to use smoke and to make loud noises when opening the hive. If they are not defensive at that point, the bees are pretty calm and smoking them will make them even more so.I agree with Greg....not smoking a hive and cracking the lid will make most any hive defensive as your instantly causing a release of alarm pheromones which aren't masked. We have seen Salty’s point many times in our yards. One hive acting badly will incite others due to alarm pheromones and sometimes two particular hives just don’t get along......for whatever reason.
Lucky for your JW.That is precisely the reason I suggested not to use smoke and to make loud noises when opening the hive. If they are not defensive at that point, the bees are pretty calm and smoking them will make them even more so.
Greg, I rarely use smoke on my bees. But, I would not dream of working them witbout a jacket,.veil, and gloves either. Only one or two hives are hard to manage, bouncing off the veil and crawling up my arms, but I can only work six or seven of the non-agressive hives before enough alarm pheromone has been released to make the remaining hives difficult to work. I do use smoke when a major rearrangement is needed, usually.