OK, right up front I'll admit that I'm not the sharpest pencil in the bunch, and tonight I gave myself more reason to believe...but throughout it all, I still have a nagging question.
This past winter we lost a hive of Italians. Our other hive, Carniolans, made it through fine. As replacements, after doing a little research, and having the good(?) fortune to have friends willing to part with some, we were able to obtain a nuc of MN Hygienics. All went well for installation and the bees seem to be doing fine...in their hive next to (about 4 feet away from) the Carniolans. We just took 5 shallows for harvesting (3 from one and 2 from the MN's) and they're really full. So, the bees have been industrious and quite active.
Something we've noticed, though, that we haven't seen before with the Italians and Carniolans...the MN's seem to be a lot more defensive and aggressive. Anyone out there have experience with these girls? Anyone see the same thing?
The beeyard is surrounded on 2 sides by forest, one side by planted bed, and the 4th side by a path with a vegetable garden on the far side. Working in the area has never been a problem. The bees ignored us. In the past 5 days or so, the Mrs. has been stung 5 times when working in the garden. She was wearing dark colors, so I attribute it to that...but maybe I'm wrong? She was 10-15 feet from the hive when stung.
The MN's seem to 'beard' the hive quite a bit. It's been rather hot here in Massachusetts this summer, and we've attributed the bearding to the heat...but who knows? The honey production hasn't suffered from it and there seems to have been no swarming at all. The 'other' hive never beards. All things between the hives are identical except for the race of bee.
And then...tada...tonight, yours truly did something that turned out to be truly and remarkably insane...and is paying the price at the moment. I got home from work about 5:00 PM and then...
We harvested and had a couple of shallows ready to return to the hives. Thinking that I wasn't going to be in the hives for more than a second or two, I donned my gear (white shirt, helmet, veil and gloves) tucked in my socks so I'd be well protected (I thought) and went about opening the hives and replacing the now empty shallows...not using smoke. The Carniolan hive went as expected. The girls within hardly noticed I was there.
Sooooo...thinking that I had a good thing going, I carefully opened the MN hive..taking off the outer cover...and then carefully prying up the inner cover....and then...whammo....they were on top of me in an instant. As carefully as I could, I put down all the hive parts I had in my hands and walked quickly away from the hive. ..they followed...in seemingly great number. And even though I thought I was well protected, I got stung through the shirt, through the socks, and (while trying to ward off the frenzied bees...the gloves came off a little) the lower arms and hands. I've counted about 30 stings or so. I'm fine...just a little upset with myself that I could be so stupid.
So there's my tale of insanity...with the question...about MN Hygienics...
Anyone out there have these bees? Anyone out there notice that they seem a little (?) more aggressive and defensive than other bees? Anyone out there have a handle on why they beard more on the hive than other bees?
Thanks in advance for any thoughts or experience you can share.
Oh...and don't be afraid to take a swipe at Mr. Stupid here for attempting something that probably (in hindsight) shouldn't have been even thought of....