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Author Topic: "Newbee" Question About Italian Bee Temperament  (Read 1352 times)
Qortni
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« on: July 26, 2011, 11:36:34 AM »

Good day, Everyone -

I did a search in the forums for my question, but didn't quite find what I'm really getting at, so I figured I'd ask...

Does anyone else find that getting into lower hive bodies, their bees are way more testy than the bees in upper hive bodies?

My husband and I just started keeping Italian bees (we're in our second whole month now), and they seem to be rather moody. I should mention our setup goes like this:
Top hive feeder, one honey super, two hive bodies (deeps)

We have no problem observing, feeding, or going through our honey super and top hive body. The ladies are very gentile, placid and busy - just doing their thing. But as soon as we open up our bottom hive to inspect, they come boiling out and there's immediately "tension" in the air. Then comes the head-butting, and then a sting or two. We didn't use smoke at first, but now we use a little on our clothes/skin and on the hive, and mostly keep it handy on the side. It helps stop the "boiling out", but some of those ladies really have it out for us! I always wear a bee veil and gloves, and my husband just wears a veil (and that's only after getting stung on the neck and right between the eyes during one inspection).

I realize that some stings are normal (we ARE invading their palace, after all), but does anyone else experience the attitude change when working the bottom hive compared to the top areas? I should also mention that we make sure to work the bees in the afternoon when the weather is sunny (and I just purchased a fun little barometer "weather station") so we know the best time to go poking around... Thanks for reading! grin
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VolunteerK9
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 12:04:15 PM »

I dont think there is any particular race of bee that will be totally complacent when their hive is being taken apart. And I know what happens when you assume, but my assumption is that as new beeks, you and your husband may be doing this on a frequent basis which will make them even more testy. (speaking from experience). Its rare for me to go into an indepth hive inspection. I open the top, pull a frame or two and thats about it. If I have a good population and see brood, eggs, honey and pollen then there is really no reason for me to go any farther. As far as your setup is concerned though, why would you have on a honey super with a feeder?
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kathyp
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2011, 12:07:37 PM »

doesn't have much to do with the breed.  has more to do with the time of the year and the size of the hive.  they are starting to store excess for winter and they will protect it.  larger hives are also more apt to be testy.  more bees, more guards, more stings.  that's not a rule....smiley

i would ask why you have a honey super and feeder on?  

one thing you might try is setting each box aside and covering it.  you will have fewer bees in the air.  the smoke is important especially at this time of the year.  use it.  

what is in that bottom box?  mostly honey, or brood?
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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.....

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Qortni
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 12:21:14 PM »

Hello, VolunteerK9 and kathyp!

Thank you for your quick replies! About the top hive feeder, we haven't fed them sugar-water since we put the honey super on a couple weeks ago - instead have been putting just plain water in it. It has been over 90 degrees for a week straight with no rain (we just started getting some "relief" yesterday, the temperature finally went down into the mid-80's and some rain came through). We thought putting just water in the top feeder would at least give them a place to rehydrate.

Good idea about covering the bodies! We had just been setting them aside at an angle on the upside-down top cover. In the bottom hive body, there was a little brood, but mostly honey. During our previous inspection, our upper hive body was mostly honey, and a little brood - but this time around there is a ton of brood and not as much honey. They work fast!!

Being new beeks, you're right - we're probably more interactive than need be. A few more stings might teach us a lesson. wink
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VolunteerK9
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 12:36:14 PM »

- we're probably more interactive than need be.

Thats why I said 'speaking from experience'. lol

This is just my second year, so my experience is limited but one thing I did notice was that my constant interference did more to hold them back than helped. I wanted to see the combs being drawn, the brood being raised and always wanted to find the ever illusive queen at work. Then, after I was satisfied, the bees would have to take the time to fix everything that I had mucked up. Try to limit your inspections to once every 2 weeks or so and you and your bees will benefit from it. I think you could crack the top open occasionally without any harm-and you can tell alot from just doing that. Enjoy
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kathyp
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 12:41:43 PM »

+ if you know that the bottom is mostly stores, there's not much reason to look at it  grin  it looks pretty much the same from time to time.  you will want to evaluate the stores before winter, but if you have a deep full now, and they are storing around the brood that you have now, you sound like you are in pretty good shape.
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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
mikecva
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« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 02:07:25 PM »

Welcome to the forum.   cheer  -Mike
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2011, 12:11:21 AM »

>Does anyone else find that getting into lower hive bodies, their bees are way more testy than the bees in upper hive bodies?

You've exposed and disturbed more bees.

>My husband and I just started keeping Italian bees (we're in our second whole month now), and they seem to be rather moody.

Bees are moody.  I try not to bother them unless I have to on days that are cold, windy, cloudy...

>We have no problem observing, feeding, or going through our honey super and top hive body. The ladies are very gentile, placid and busy - just doing their thing. But as soon as we open up our bottom hive to inspect, they come boiling out and there's immediately "tension" in the air.

There are more bees in the brood nest than the supers, by far.  Do you smoke them?  A puff of smoke works wonders.

> Then comes the head-butting, and then a sting or two. We didn't use smoke at first, but now we use a little on our clothes/skin and on the hive, and mostly keep it handy on the side. It helps stop the "boiling out"

Exactly.  A puff across the top of any newly exposed area keeps the alarm from spreading.

> but some of those ladies really have it out for us! I always wear a bee veil and gloves

As you should.

>, and my husband just wears a veil (and that's only after getting stung on the neck and right between the eyes during one inspection).

He learned...

>I realize that some stings are normal (we ARE invading their palace, after all), but does anyone else experience the attitude change when working the bottom hive compared to the top areas?

Of course.  But you should be able to use the appropriate amount of cool smoke to keep them in line.  Also, of course, gentle is the name of the game.  Nothing sudden.  Nothing jarring.
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Michael Bush
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bulldog
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2011, 01:18:57 AM »

my one hive is like that also. i could rob them of every bit of honey without incident, but open the broodnest and there are always a few that come out looking for a fight. i'll get buzzed and headbutted until i close their hive and go about 50 feet or so away from the hive, then they are a little pissy for a few days.
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Finski
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2011, 01:35:17 AM »

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Italian race is most popular in the world.

Strains, stocks and what ever are many. Further more there are crossbreeded bee yards.

You may have Italian killer bees or tame as home cats.  you need continuous selection to keep your yard in pleasant condition.
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Qortni
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2011, 02:24:41 PM »

Thank you, everyone, for the input!

I think instead of mucking around in the lower hive body so much, we'll keep it to a minimum, and just stick to taking little peeks in the top hive and super from time to time... Being new beeks, we're just super curious to see what's going on in there, how they work their "magic", and to check on their health. They've expanded very fast, and seem extremely productive. I've heard from other area beekeepers that they've been having a good year in their hives, too.  cool
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Finski
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2011, 04:12:12 PM »

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Extremely productive means too that pastures are good.
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