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Thyme and Aggression

1137 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  BeeButler
I searched forum but couldn't find a good match to this question. I know Thymol is used in bee treatments. We have an herb garden about 20' from my 4 hives (1 overwintered; 2 nucs and a split nuc). We were cleaning up the garden this weekend and there was a lot of overgrown thyme plants with lots of dead "wood" in big pillows. My wife was on her knees pulling out the dead stuff when she screamed as she was being stung. I first thought (bees were under her) maybe ground hornets (though too early in season) since whatever was flying seemed to be between her and ground. As she sprinted away and I got closer it was clearly HB. She got pinged a couple times, including on the cheek so went in the house. 10 minutes later Genius Boy then proceeded to use a garden rake to scratch the dead stuff from the patches of thyme - and guess what? I only got stung 2x which doesn't bother me at this point, though I'll never enjoy being swarmed by a dozen or so angry bees and doing the idiot dance across my lawn (luckily not in plain sight of public). I don't have any hot hives at this time and often pop the lids and even manipulate a little without smoke in between inspections.

Is this a known phenomenon? Does thyme oil (~ thymol) elicit fury in HB? Maybe I should move (on a rainy day) that section of the herb garden to the further side?
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I don't have a good answer to your question of why they would be so aggressive 20' from their hives. The only thing I can attest to is that, when using Apiguard (Thymol) in my hives, my bees become very annoyed and aggressive. They work furiously to remove the Thymol from their hive and I have even had a hive abscond when I attempted to use Thymol. My understanding is that the fact that the Thymol is an irritant to the bees aids its spread of the Thymol through the hive as bees work hard removing it, thereby spreading it all over themselves and their hive mates.

However, that would not really explain why bees would be aggressive in a thyme herb garden 20 feet away from the hive. Seems they would simply avoid the area if thyme, in its natural state, was also an irritant. I suppose you have checked and made sure that no swarm has made a home under the big pillows of dead wood?
Hacking/chopping/raking at plants foragers are visiting would make any bee aggressive. No need to resort to other explanations.
Hacking/chopping/raking at plants foragers are visiting would make any bee aggressive. No need to resort to other explanations.
Yes, Shinbone, I would agree except there were no flowers or bees foraging on anything in the garden. I can't say which hive they came from (closest?), but there were no bees in garden while we worked on it for quite a while before going at the thyme section. Maybe I have a hot hive looking for any excuse and don't know it.

I'll give it another try and be ready to do the O.J. run just in case.
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