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A fellow beek in a bind needed to give up his hive, and I agreed to take it.

He Warned me that it was quite "hot". He told me he got his last queen from "Jack", who's bees are also quite "hot".

Arriving at his house, he was in bee suit, with smoker in hand, screwing and *hammering* boards and straps to the side of the hive for transport. For some reason, the inner cover had been removed. Hive was dropped a few times in the process of loading.

After delivering the (roaring) hive to the apiary, I let it sit for 2 days to let it settle before attending to it.

As part of my practice, I am committed to wearing neither suit, nor smoking, and instead using my ears, eyes, sugar spray, and a soft touch. I was unsure how this would go with this "hot" hive, but needed to try, for the sake of my own learning.

To make a long story short, I was able pry and unscrew the wood and straps off of the hive, remove the telescoping cover, and replace the inner cover. The hive was incredible strong, it was nerve-wracking work, and took about an hour while a cloud of beez buzzed around me.

I only received one sting, on my thumb, from a bee I squeezed while picking up my screwgun.

The significant lesson I learned is this: The other beek's fear of his hive caused him to treat his hive in a way that contributed to the hive's bad mood.

As a newbeek, I feel this was a bit of a light-bulb moment.
 

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I am very new to beekeeping. That being said, I have noticed how gentle the bees are. Don't get me wrong. I've read enough that I know I will get stung, it's just a matter of time. I usually wear either a hat/veil or my full suit, depending on how much and how deep I plan to go. But I'm not scared of the bees and I am tending to think they know this. A week ago I went to the hives to check on the sugar water, no veil or suit. I have an empty super on with a half gallon jar on top for feed. I took the top cover off and the bees never even noticed me. I thought what the heck, I used my pocket knife and popped the inner cover loose just wanting to take a quick peek at how much they had drawn out. Again, never even noticed me. This gave me more courage so I used my pocket knife to pop a frame loose and again, never even noticing me. What's going on? Well, I took my gloveless hands, seen it done on Utube, and lifted a frame out covered with bees. Some even crawled onto my fingers! I was able to look closely at the frame, both sides and again, they didn't give a hoot. I consider myself very lucky and haven't done that again. Probably never will. Just was feeling brave and probably stupid that day. But I wonder if they can sense fear? Oh, well, like I said, "it's coming". But it won't be the first time in my life!
 

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Although I agree that one's fear of a hive can contribute to their level of defensiveness. I also think that in this situation, your conclusion may be a bit premature, there are many other factors leading to the aggressiveness of a hive and a soft touch and calm attitude is not always enough to keep them cool.
 

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The way bees are treated can be a direct cause of being testy. No matter how gentle you are with your bees, you should really reconsider not wearing a veil because it sounds like you aren't using one. The toxin from bees may take 8.6 stings per pound of body weight to kill a person but it only takes a few to kill if they sting along the respiratory tract. I work with a smoker and veil to be safe even if I don't think it necessary.

As for ill tempered bees from bad handling, I've seen that first hand. A guy I knew was rough with his girls and even extracted every ounce of honey out of the hives on a couple of occasions, including frames of brood. He was only doing what his grandfather had taught him. My first visit to his apiary got me tagged on the lip while I was standing 50 ft away and trying to get my veil on. Needless to say, the next time, I had the veil on before I could see the hives. After giving him some tips, he's gotten much better and they aren't hostile any more. Though we have Africanized bees (AHB) in our area, his weren't testing positive,either. It had everything to do with rough handling.
 

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I agree and yet disagree. How you handle any livestock can rile them up or keep them calm.
I handle the hives gentley, and my husband has an even gentler touch than i do. However, he gets stung more than i. I work the hives more than he does. He has no fear of the bees. But time and time again, he comes away with more stings than i. As well, if we are walking side by side, the bees have a tendancy to ping him in the head and leave me alone.
I think it also has to do with the smell of a person.
 

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Honeyshack might be onto something, my wife will help me when I need it and the bees always buzz and head butt her more than me. When she asked why was that, I said they like me better, or perhaps they were jealous of her. The second statement took the edge off the killer stare.
 

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Could be that the first owner had themin a place where critters were bothering them. Hives that get visited by skunks or racoons regularly can be rather ornery.
 

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I am very new to beekeeping. That being said, I have noticed how gentle the bees are. Don't get me wrong. I've read enough that I know I will get stung, it's just a matter of time. I usually wear either a hat/veil or my full suit, depending on how much and how deep I plan to go. But I'm not scared of the bees and I am tending to think they know this. A week ago I went to the hives to check on the sugar water, no veil or suit. I have an empty super on with a half gallon jar on top for feed. I took the top cover off and the bees never even noticed me. I thought what the heck, I used my pocket knife and popped the inner cover loose just wanting to take a quick peek at how much they had drawn out. Again, never even noticed me. This gave me more courage so I used my pocket knife to pop a frame loose and again, never even noticing me. What's going on? Well, I took my gloveless hands, seen it done on Utube, and lifted a frame out covered with bees. Some even crawled onto my fingers! I was able to look closely at the frame, both sides and again, they didn't give a hoot....
I've had similar experiences, but I've learned to keep the smoker handy for when I do something irritating to the hive. A puff and some time usually lets them settle down, but not always. If they remain ugly, I close up the hive, and then decide if I really need to bother them at the moment. If I do, I suit up, and have the peace of mind that allows me to remain calm while I'm doing what ever. When I push my luck, I usually rush, make mistakes and pay the price.

As a recreational beekeeper, I usually have the luxury of time on my side. I don't envy the professionals that have to get things done - those suits can be hotter than the hive.
 

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I handle the hives gentley, and my husband has an even gentler touch than i do. However, he gets stung more than i. I work the hives more than he does. He has no fear of the bees. But time and time again, he comes away with more stings than i. As well, if we are walking side by side, the bees have a tendancy to ping him in the head and leave me alone.
I think it also has to do with the smell of a person.
I've been told by oldtimers that bees dislike the smell of some people more than others. If the bees particularly bother someone, leave a piece of sweaty clothing from that person on or at the entrance for a week or so. The bees will get used to the smell of that person and not bother them as much.
 

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Ok just been doing this thing three years now but so far I have found if there is a flow on and its the middle of the day,your probably going to be Ok without a suit if you are easy on them. Knock them around and they will you too. Now I used to work them most of the time with no suit until this spring when it was 80f but a little late. Around 5:30 in early april and decided to put a super on a hive. It flippin when bananas. I covered my eyes with my hands and started walking toward the house. Fell down,got up and kept going. About 25 got me. The moral is,I were my veil now,but you know I supered today at an out beeyard and forgot it. It went fine.
 

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Mike, I think you might have misunderstood me. I was saying you always need to use a veil and smoke. I have got by without it many times, but it only takes one sting in the eye, to change your mind.

Many of the hives here in Texas are hot, so he would not fare well, to not use safety equipment.
 

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I'm with Michael & Chick on this.

Over the years I have been stung many times,not once have I thought "Wow, I would like some more of that."

I would rather walk away from hive a hundred times thinking I could have worked them without the veil and smoker, than run away once because because I should have used them and didn't.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
As a recreational beekeeper, I usually have the luxury of time on my side. I don't envy the professionals that have to get things done - those suits can be hotter than the hive.
This is significant... Yet again, we see that what works on a small scale doesn't necessarily work on a large scale.

If someone's working 100 hives, they don't have the luxury of going at the ideal time of day. Plus, they must move with a certain degree of urgency - Time is money.
 

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My one-year old hive was always completely calm and I could have easily gone without a vail, suit, or gloves all last summer and earlier this spring. Until they swarmed about 2 weeks ago, and are now without a queen. I tried smoke and then "reasoning" with the bees, but they wouldnt listen. Even my zen-like, ninja bee powers did not calm them. I took hundreds and hundreds of stings to my suit and gloved hands (many making it through) while just standing next to the hive. Mind you, I wasnt "fumbling" around in the hive with gloved hands. I gently remove the supers (without inccident) and was in the process of removing a frame from the brood chamber when they went beeserk.

If you think sugar water spray and "not being afraid of the bees" is better than a suit and vail in a situation like that, good luck. You are going to be sorry some day.
 
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