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!