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Author Topic: Strange behavior!  (Read 1252 times)
ziffabeek
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« on: April 10, 2010, 03:26:11 PM »

I have a hive of very sweet bees.  I regularly pop the outer cover and peer in with no protection or smoke and they hardly even seem to notice me.  When I go deeper, I've always worn a veil and long sleeves but no gloves and generally they rarely even buzz me.

I have had to treat with apiguard this spring (bummer I know) and it has been one week since the first treatment.  I thought I'd go ahead and pop the cover and remove the treatment tray since I knew it was empty, and check out the girls, maybe see how they were doing with the new frame I had put in. 

The outer cover came off fine, but when I slipped in my hive tool and popped the inner cover, I heard a buzzzzz that usually I only hear when I knock a frame too hard or fast.  "Hmmm,  that's kind of odd," I thought. but continued on.  When I lifted the inner cover, a few scouts flew at me and buzzed me, but they seemed to calm down when I held still. 

Feeling strangely brave, I thought, "I'll just pull that one frame and see if they're drawing it."  They have really taken to connecting all the frame tops with comb, so I began to slice through the connecting comb to free the frame.  Unh uh, they didn't really like that. So I stepped back for a moment, did my "honey love" calming chant to them and they once again settled down.  I approached again, and before I got my hive tool closer than 2 inches to the frame, all the bees in the vicinity stuck their butts in the air and shook them and started a loud buzzzing.  I stopped and backed off.  The went back to normal.  But every time I got my hive tool close, they did the same thing. Loud buzzz, shaking and scurrying and some started taking off and flying about me.  Hmmm, this is veerrry unlike my girls. 

Upon closer inspection, they look darker than normal, maybe a different dad hatching? and they did seem to be a little more frenetic.  They jumped all over the one slit I had made in that connecting comb, creating a little pile over it.  I decided that perhaps this wasn't the day to try my first unprotected inspection and closed them all up.  Still no sting but they were definitely antsy.

My question is, do you think it is because of the apiguard treatment?  I know it messes with the whole microbial balance, do you think that would unbalance my sweet little hive?  Do you think the behavior change would be permanent?  I've also read that bees get more defensive before a swarm.  I know they are a little tight on room, which is why I traded out 2 frames for undrawn ones last week, thinking that would give them a little more room. (I'm trying not to put a super on til after treatment so as not to lose the whole super of honey).  Does this sound like pre-swarm behavior to anybody?

I'm going to suit up and go in tomorrow and see what's up.  Just musing and curious and wondering what others thoughts may be about this strange (to me) behavior.

Thanks and happy Saturday!

ziffa
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doak
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2010, 04:04:18 PM »

If they are doing ok other wise, I'd not go in too often, just keeps them agitated.
You will have bees from more than one drone, hence the color difference.
I would like to know why they are connecting the frames with wax if all the frames are not drawn out and if they are doing this for more space.  :)doak
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doak
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2010, 04:31:32 PM »

Some time they will build bridge comb for drone cells. This is when they don't have a frame with a busted space or if you are using plastic foundation.
I get some bridge comb but not that much. :)doak
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kathyp
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2010, 04:46:26 PM »

when was the last time you verified a queen in that hive?

if they have a queen then they might just be having a bad day. weather, wind, other invaders, all can set them off.

there are plenty of really experience people on here who routinely stick their unprotected faces in hives.  they have the experience to have made an informed choice.  for beginners, i can't recommend it.  an airway sting, or a sting in the eye, can range from deadly to permanently damaging. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
iddee
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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2010, 06:05:36 PM »

People go into bees without smoke.
People drive without seat belts.
People ride motor bikes without helmets.

Many times people get by with doing silly things, but they eventually pay for it the hard way.

NEVER GO INTO A HIVE WITHOUT SMOKE.
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"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

*Shel Silverstein*
kathyp
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« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2010, 06:10:16 PM »

NEVER??   grin

i think it's easier to find the queen if i don't use smoke.  if i'm only taking a peak at the top of the frames for stores, i don't spend time firing up the smoker.  i did have one hive that was nasty and needed smoking just for a quick look....they are gone now.......

of course, i don't do cutouts with my shirt off   evil
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
iddee
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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2010, 08:19:53 PM »

I used to ride without helmet and chaps. Of the thousands of rides, only 2 or 3 left scars. It will happen, sooner or later.

Yes, NEVER, if you don't like stinging surprises.  Kiss  tongue  tongue
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"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

*Shel Silverstein*
kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2010, 08:34:56 PM »

i compensate with excess clothing.  Wink
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
gardeningfireman
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« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2010, 08:36:59 PM »

Could you have a skunk bothering them at night? If skunks are around, the girls get pretty testy. Look for small holes dug or scratched up ground in front of the hives. A friend of mine put carpet tack strips on the landing boards of her hives to keep the skunks off them.
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ziffabeek
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2010, 07:15:36 PM »

Thanks all for the replies!

And yes, I was being unreasonably brave, but I did back off when I realized my mistake Smiley.  I sometimes don't use smoke, but that's just because I have trouble keeping the durn thing lit, so I start with it, but often end without it!!  I will heed the advice though, and not try that again.  Patience is not my strongest virtue and I always want to try everything right NOW!! but I am trying to learn that things will come with time - like the experience to go into the hive with no veil.

I think doak may be right and they might just be wanting to be left alone.  As I said I did steal a frame of honey last week, so maybe they are being protective.  Plus, I do think the apiguard has them unsettled.  That stuff smells!!

I did see the queen 2-3 weeks ago when I did my first inspection of the year, and larva last week when I put the apiguard in so I think she's ok.  I decided not to go in today, partly because of doak's advice and partly because I got a call to do a swarm!!! (That will be another post!!!) So hopefully they will be calmer next week when I have to put in the second treatment thing.

No skunks in the city and I didn't see any signs of possum. 

Thanks again for the replies.  I think I will retreat behind my veil, always use smoke, and try not to get into them too often.  It is very hard for me to do the last one though, cuz I only have the one hive and I'm soo obsessed!!   But I had a very fortunate experience today that will help me with that.

love to you all!
ziffa
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luvin honey
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« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2010, 12:49:39 PM »

Mine have been acting like this, too, and my limited experience makes me wonder about queenlessness. But, sounds like that's not the case for you this time. Could they be low on food?

Never go without smoke? Oops. Guess I have messed up on that one consistently.  tongue

Now, I want to know what your "honey love" chant is! Then I can be a bee whisperer, too Cheesy
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The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
---Emily Dickinson
ziffabeek
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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2010, 08:22:01 PM »

Lol, luvin, hardly a bee whisperer here, but I do croon to the girls while I'm working them.  Seems to calm me and them both!

I am now a little worried that they might be queenless, but there's nothing for it until this weekend when I can get in to check properly.   Since they are on their own all day, they could have swarmed without my knowing it.  I keep my eye peeled for swarms, and there was one I heard about in a shopping center near here a couple of weeks ago, so now i'm worrying that they somehow swarmed and didn't leave a queen behind.  But I seem to worry about them almost constantly, so I'm hoping it is just neurosis and not founded Smiley.

I will let you know on Saturday!
love,
ziffa
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luvin honey
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2010, 01:12:33 PM »

Lol, luvin, hardly a bee whisperer here, but I do croon to the girls while I'm working them.  Seems to calm me and them both!

I am now a little worried that they might be queenless, but there's nothing for it until this weekend when I can get in to check properly.   Since they are on their own all day, they could have swarmed without my knowing it.  I keep my eye peeled for swarms, and there was one I heard about in a shopping center near here a couple of weeks ago, so now i'm worrying that they somehow swarmed and didn't leave a queen behind.  But I seem to worry about them almost constantly, so I'm hoping it is just neurosis and not founded Smiley.

I will let you know on Saturday!
love,
ziffa

Well, you and I are in the same worry boat. I was so proud to have a strong surviving hive!! Then, I opened it up a month ago, expanded it dramatically, whereupon the weather dived down into freezing temps, snow and rain. I think the queen may have died. I really hope yours pulls through!

As for chatting with the girls, I talk to them constantly, too! I praise productive queens, jeer at the fat, lazy drones and mutter things like "Don't even THINK about it" to the girls who are bombing my head and obviously getting ready to sting me. Cheesy Maybe if I were to croon and be more gentle, my life inside the hive would be more peacable.

In all seriousness, it really changes from visit to visit. That's why I'm worried about my hive right now, as they went from gentle and tolerant to nasty. Anway, good luck to you.
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The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
---Emily Dickinson
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