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Author Topic: How mean is too mean?  (Read 4461 times)
DLMKA
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« on: May 30, 2012, 01:45:57 PM »

I've got a hive that I bought 2 weeks ago that is pretty aggressive.  Since I'm new at this I don't really know where the line is for acceptable behavior.  The hives are sitting over an open field that will be soon planted with pumpkins so there will be some traffic soon with the farmer planting and occasional tractor and foot traffic for cultivation.  The nearest house is 100-150 yards away.  I haven't had a problem with them in the past two weeks when I've been there but I haven't been in the hive either.  Last night I went in looking to see if the queen had moved up into the other brood box and to take the hive feeders off.  I opened this hive right after I bought it and removed the queen excluder (which had trapped the queen in the super leaving the two deeps below it void of brood) and they weren't very nice then and had to break down and use gloves after getting stung twice. Last night they were pretty nasty.  The wife went to watch and learn and got stung on the back of the head right where the brim of the hat meets the head.  She said they followed her 50 yards or more before losing interest.  My daughter got stung playing by the car 100' away.  I had gloves on and probably scraped 20-30 stingers off the gloves, smoke had little to no effect on them.  I could puff a little smoke over the top bars and push them down but within seconds bees were boiling out of the top bars and going airborne coming at my veil and hands.  At what point do you squish the queen and replace her?  This hive is still building back up after the previous owner managed to get her stuck above the excluder leaving only a medium for brood.  I don't know if I want to wait 30 days to have a laying queen again so I'll probably buy one.


On another note, if I squish the existing queen and let them raise a new one what are the chances the new queen will be like her mom?  I have 4 other hives in the area, one is a split off this hive and the other 3 are captured swarms that are a pleasure to work with.  I'm sure there are quite a few feral colonies in the area too for breeding stock.
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AllenF
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2012, 02:05:48 PM »

You checked them last night?   How late into the night?  I would never judge a hive on one visit.  How was the weather also?   
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DLMKA
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2012, 02:08:52 PM »

It was around 5:30 maybe a little closer to 6.  The hives were in the shadows cast by a row of trees to the west at that point.  When the hive is closed up they've been fine.  I haven't had a problem working in the area with just a t-shirt on.
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AllenF
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2012, 02:10:52 PM »

Do you think you smashed a few bees working the hive?
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DLMKA
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2012, 02:22:17 PM »

likely but they were coming out at me as soon as I removed the top feeder.
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2012, 04:15:51 PM »

Did you have last night's rain storm approaching you.
In parts of Missouri Monday night we had more than 3 inches, and last night about 1 1/4 .
Bees can get testy during weather changes, also when there is a lack of pollen/nector like in a dry spell.

Bee-Bop
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Finski
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2012, 05:05:35 PM »

-
 She said they followed her 50 yards or more before losing interest.
  My daughter got stung playing by the car 100' away.
  I had gloves on and probably scraped 20-30 stingers off the gloves,
 smoke had little to no effect on them. 


On another note, if I squish the existing queen and let them raise a new one what are the chances the new queen will be like her mom? 

That hive is even dangerous. Lets imagine that you have inspected the hive. It is irridated. Then some one goes by. Bees attack, and he/she fall down covered by bees.  Life is in danger then.

I had a furious hive some years ago. I tried to take honey away and it gove to about 70 sting in first handshaking. So I simulated what could happen in the worst case (above)

By a new laying queen.


Move the hive and make a false swarm into original site. So you get old bees away from the hive and you find the queen. Kill it.

That Devil makes drones too and your yard is not good place to mate queens.



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Joe D
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2012, 06:02:24 PM »


Depending on what the weather was etc. I would go with Finski, I had a hive that on a given day they would get you 30 yards from hive.  Bought a mated queen, and replaced old one.  In this area it is not hard to find a gentle queen for $20.   Got one a week ago, checked yesterday, have new brood.  Good luck with your bees.

Joe
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AllenF
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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012, 07:23:55 PM »

I always have said there is no reason to keep mean queens, but just one bad day does not mean she has turned mean.   You need to check them a few more times to see why they were angry that day.   
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scdw43
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« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012, 08:30:20 PM »

I agree with Allenf but about one more time say in the middle of the day with the sun shinning would do it for me. You know if you requeen it you will still have her bees in that hive for as long as 60 days, but it should get easier as  time goes by after requeening..
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oregonbeeman
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« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2012, 12:13:26 AM »

I agree with the other. Give them some time to calm down. On the other hand mean bees aren't all bad some times. They sure know how to defend their hive when they need to.
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Finski
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« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2012, 12:41:25 AM »

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A hive is easy to test. When you open the cover in the evening, calm bees do not jump against face net.
Evil workers lift their abdomen up when you lift the cover. It is the first warning.
When I have new queens in the nuc and their new emerged workers do that, I kill the queen.

I work with bare hands. I accept 10 stings to hands but 20 stings per day it too much from one hive. The queen will go.

In gloves poison stings alarm more attacking. It is soon bad.


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indypartridge
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« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2012, 06:26:50 AM »

In gloves poison stings alarm more attacking. It is soon bad.
\
Interesting. I stopped wearing gloves years ago, but I've experienced that as well. However, I never made the connection that perhaps the alarm pheromone is somehow stronger when you have gloves full of stingers.
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« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2012, 08:44:48 AM »

My bees were more aggressive when I first started.  The hives that were too mean would usually attack when I walked by.

So much of it can be situational too.  Skunks stirring them up.  A tractor rumbling by.  Weather.  Queenlessness. 

Are you smoking the entrance before you open the hive up? Also, I find that when I do inspections that if I work my way down the hive stack that as I get near the bottom they're pretty riled up, whereas if I start at the bottom and work my way up they don't get near so riled up.

How mean is too mean is really up to you.  Sounds like they are too mean for you: they would be for me, I hate mean bees!!.  Open them up on a nice balmy sunny afternoon, and if you still get flak, then I'd go for requeening as detailed above.

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DLMKA
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« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2012, 09:37:01 AM »

Saturday is supposed to be sunny with with a high in the mid-70's.  I'll check after lunch and see how it goes.

I do smoke the entrance several minutes before opening the hive and since I've got a screened inner cover I lift the telescoping cover and smoke the top.  With the top feeder I'd get a hundred or so (yes, I counted them all Smiley that came up into the feeder when I removed the top cover. 

I'm pretty sure I'm squishing her this weekend, I'll order some mated queens Friday morning.
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Finski
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« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2012, 10:14:31 AM »

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Agressive hives are allways agressive. They just defend their hive. Non agressive is results of selection.


I cannot se any reason to keep agressive hives. The cost of pleasant queen is 3 kg honey.

Donate 3 kg honey to professional beekeeper and you will be saved from hundreds of stings.
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Danpunch
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« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2012, 12:56:00 PM »

I wouldn't want to work this hive. Time to squish.
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jaseemtp
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« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2012, 05:23:49 PM »

I agree with Finski
My bees are on my property and I have 3 children under the age of 10.  Keeping mean bees is not worth the possibilty of injury or death of my kids.  As others have stated though you could have caught them at a bad time, but that still is not acceptable to me.  Take care and let us know how the inspection goes on saturday.
Ohh when you checked this one and they jumped you, did you happen to check any other hives?  If so how did they behave?
Jason
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Finski
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« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2012, 05:38:17 PM »

.
I tell what happened 32 years ago. Our second son was 3 month old and we were om summer cottage.
A bee went into my wife's hair. She shrieked, dropped the baby down and run inside the door.

Then door open and she shouted: TAKE  BABY!
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yockey5
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« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2012, 05:44:00 PM »

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I tell what happened 32 years ago. Our second son was 3 month old and we were om summer cottage.
A bee went into my wife's hair. She shrieked, dropped the baby down and run inside the door.

Then door open and she shouted: TAKE  BABY!



lau lau lau lau lau lau lau
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JP
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« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2012, 08:47:23 PM »

Did you happen to give them smoke before removing the feeder? Before doing anything?


...JP
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« Reply #21 on: June 01, 2012, 03:42:21 AM »

+1 on checking several times before deciding.  Bees will get all defensive for all kinds of reasons.  Though they are amazing animals, let's face it, they have just enough brain tissue to reason not to sting.

I have a hive of regular Italians, they don't mind me sticking my nose into their business mostly.  I open to look through and they get flustered after a while, then seem confused what to do about me.  I made a split and mis-guessed which nuc was the one that was queenless.  I was walking by yesterday, one followed me 50 feet away and stung me on the nose.  Today I went into the barn and without warning got stung on the wrist when I stepped out again.  I opened it up and there are about 10 emergency cells, at least one with a larvae.

In contrast, I have a colony that last year was a real horror.  I finally took the whole hive out in the trees where they wouldn't get sight of me.  They were the kind that I could just sit next to if I were real quiet.  While moving that hive the bottom board dropped off and I got stung 6 times.  I would inspect and my jacket pocket would have bees in it.  I had two sting me under cover, I couldn't walk across the barnyard without somebody getting up in my face.  I had one follow me 400 feet into the trees before she gave up.  I guess they swarmed and requeened, I was in there yesterday to see about giving them space and never so much as got a head bump.
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DLMKA
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« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2012, 08:57:02 AM »

Did you happen to give them smoke before removing the feeder? Before doing anything?


...JP

This hive got a couple puffs of smoke before doing anything.  The last time I opened them they were grumpy so I expected the same this time.
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« Reply #23 on: June 01, 2012, 09:26:06 AM »

We've got a removal to do today (overcast and rainy). One colony is in an old water heater tank and the other is in a palmetto clump within 15' of the first. When I showed up to look at them the other day (during a tropical storm) the bees in the tank couldn't care less...the bees in the bush tore me up! Took 15-16 stings to the head and neck and walked 300yds or so before they let up.

Looks like we'll be wearing the full suits today!

Scott
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« Reply #24 on: June 01, 2012, 10:28:20 AM »

+1 on checking several times before deciding.  Bees will get all defensive for all kinds of reasons.  Though they are amazing animals, let's face it, they have just enough brain tissue to reason not to sting.

Jee jee. I am more amazing and I squeeze the queen if workers salute me in the nuc stings pointing to sky.
I do not need to scheck many times. 20 stings to my hands in one day and it is EXIT to the queen.

I keep spare queen all the time and too amazing queen will go finally.

It is better to read from forum how exellent bees are.

.
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« Reply #25 on: June 01, 2012, 04:25:10 PM »

I have a hive that I caught early last year.  They are pretty mean.  I was told they are Russian bees but I don't know for sure.  They are blacker than my package bees.  They swarm often, and always have more bees than my other hives.  I had to increase the size of my brood area to accommodate the higher population.

When they are sitting on a bunch of honey they are extremely testy and will attack in small numbers.  After harvest they calm down.

I would have re-queened them but they are my super star honey producers and require less maintenance than my other hives. 
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« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2012, 06:36:55 PM »

i had a nasty one early in spring.  i pulled the boxes apart to see if they'd settle and because i thought they might be queenless.  they were to nasty to check all the way though.  i watched the bees all head back into one box and a couple of days later, they swarmed.  caught the swarm.  both the swarm and the original hive are now easy to handle.

you just never know what might be making them cranky.  i'd side with the wait a week and check again under optimal conditions.  that is:  sunny, not to windy, mid-dayish, and with smoke.  if you get the same results...requeen.  in a more urban area you can't take the chance.
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« Reply #27 on: June 02, 2012, 03:55:07 AM »

.
Yesterday I gove to hives more room. They all were more nasty than usual. Today it is here quite a storm and it has rained the whole night.

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« Reply #28 on: June 02, 2012, 02:43:28 PM »

Quote
Jee jee. I am more amazing and I squeeze the queen if workers salute me in the nuc stings pointing to sky.

I'm assuming this means when the bees point their butts in the air and present their stingers as warning.

If we could convince the bees we're not what they should be defending the hive from we would keep them in the kitchen as pets.  Just because they take on a defensive posture is no reason, in my opinion, to off the queen.  20 stings to the hands (or anywhere else) is a good indicator the queen needs to go.  That would take all the fun out of it.

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« Reply #29 on: June 02, 2012, 05:30:37 PM »

[

If we could convince the bees we're not what they should be defending

I make decisions in my yard not "collective we".

Quote
20 stings to the hands (or anywhere else) is a good indicator the queen needs to go.

I have kept bees 50 years. I know what I do. Still....

I do not rear queens for fun and then kill them for fun

I keep spare queens all the time: a  bad goes and a good remains.

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« Reply #30 on: June 03, 2012, 01:21:04 AM »

yippie chick       When I said we, Finski, I meant the human species.  You make your own decision.       yippie chick
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« Reply #31 on: June 03, 2012, 01:27:34 AM »

yippie chick       When I said we, Finski, I meant the human species.  You make your own decision.       yippie chick

That is too much if you speak in the name of human species.  WOW. But how those hen fit to your global thinking?

Try to understand how domestication of animals have happened: selecting, and not choosing evil individuals.
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« Reply #32 on: June 03, 2012, 02:24:49 AM »

Well Finski you're at it again.

You understand the concept of chop logic?  Basically you take any true statement and use it to prove validity.  For Example:

WHY CATS MEOW.

1) Cats have Whiskers.
2) Whiskers are a kind of hair.
3) A hare is a kind of rabbit.
4) Rabbits run fast.
5) To fast is to cause oneself pain.  In other words, "Me Ow."
6) Therefore, cats meow because they have whiskers.

I stated, "Though they are amazing creatures, let's face it they have just enough brain tissue to reason not to sting."  You come back with "I am more amazing and I squeeze the queen if workers salute me in the nuc stings pointing to sky."

Everything kind of goes down hill from there.  So let me state that a hen is a kind of chicken...
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« Reply #33 on: June 03, 2012, 07:39:56 AM »

Finski knows what he is talking about, and I agree with him.
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« Reply #34 on: June 03, 2012, 01:00:04 PM »

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CapnChkn , dont teach duck to swim...
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« Reply #35 on: June 03, 2012, 05:52:19 PM »

Checked them again today. Weather was fair, partly cloudy skies, 81F, 3 mph west wind. I don't think the weather gets much better. They weren't AS bad today, I can handle this behavior but they still aren't as nice as any of my other hives. I gave them some empty frames when I was in there last, they were completely drawn out and had a solid pattern of eggs. The rest of the frames in the top box had a wide band of capped honey, need to add another med brood box at the bottom and a couple honey supers.
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« Reply #36 on: June 03, 2012, 11:24:43 PM »


Don't know if SHB are up there, if so don't add to many boxes at 1 time.  Would be a lot of empty space for them to defend.


Joe
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« Reply #37 on: June 03, 2012, 11:29:34 PM »

I had a removal this weekend It took two days. the hive covered ceiling rafters in a first floor apt 36 inches in from the outside wall and 4 feet down between the outside brick and backer boarding. I took 9 stings from them because I could not use smoke. the window would not open in the apt and I could not use the smoke dew to thefire alarms going off and auto calling the fire dept. this hive was hot because of not using smoke had to go back sunday to finish the removal . I combined the bees sunday and they seem to calm down a little . when I place the original hive they chased me over 150 feet away with a couple that would not stop. I received a total of 11 hits from this hive. But the brood pattern was so great and the bees so strong that I am keeping the Queen. I have another hive from this apt complex and they were hot for about a week and half. now they are great. I can set next to the hive in shorts for over a hour before one of the guards tells me its time to leave with a flyby. I have no problem going into the hive using little smoke and slow moves. all my hives are placed over 3 acres with none close than 150 feet from the house. I have no problems with them.  wife even pulls out the ones that get in the pool. I believe that they become accustomed to my presence so I try to keep the genetics of the hive unless they get to appoint that I can not work the hive without receiving attacks more that 20 feet from the hive then I pinch the Queen and replace with a Queen from my gentel hive that I keep in a one acres green house to control mating of the queens. the greenhouse grows orchid's and mint variates so it is never open to the outside except by screens.
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« Reply #38 on: June 04, 2012, 05:49:50 AM »

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Calm bees are good in migrative beekeeping

That is my main job in beekeeping. I pick up best pastures and move hives even twice during 2 moth yield season.

It is very nice to take hive in the morning and move it out. When I take off tranport cover mesh, bees do not rush on me.  It takes 2 hours and they start to forage.

Once upon a time were cedaces when I had German Black Crossings. I call them "Black Devils". Englishmen call them "National Bee".  They have everything National with big letter.

It was in beekeeping book that after treatment hives are angry 3 days. When you compare to two hours, the dirrefence is big.

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« Reply #39 on: June 06, 2012, 08:47:53 AM »

After my installation issues I thought I might have aggressive bees, but after hearing these stories my bees are angels. I can stand feet from the entrance and watch them as long as I want. I've even walked around the hive killing a few curious ants on top. We've mowed once without problem the grass edge is about 10ft from the front of the hive. Thanks to Italians and Drapers for some easy going girls!
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« Reply #40 on: June 13, 2012, 05:17:44 PM »

I live in SW Florida and we have Africianized bees here in ever increasing numbers.  The local State inspector told me that his rule of thumb for replacing the queen is to smoke the top of the hive.  If the smoke drives the bees down into the hive, they are OK.  If they come boiling up out of the hive then they need to be requeened.

Another test is the amount of guard bees that come out of the hive when someone approaches.  More than a couple of dozen is grounds for another queen.

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I like doing cut-outs, but I love catching swarms!


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« Reply #41 on: June 13, 2012, 08:58:15 PM »

Take that with a grain of salt Joe. Bare in mind what you are looking for is a hive that is consistently aggressive over the course of 2-3 inspections (my own personal criteria). Bees respond to atmospheric pressure changes, sometimes in a bad way. If they are requeeing the hive could be bitter during this period as well. I've seen them quite moody turn quite peaceful once the weather righted itself and I've seen aggressive hives become extremely gentle once THEY requeened themselves. And don't forget a hungry hive or swarm can be downright unruly until they get some supper in them.

My .02


...JP
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Beeboy01
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« Reply #42 on: June 14, 2012, 03:34:29 PM »

If the hive is too mean to the point where the bee keeper doesn't like it then the course of action is prety much a no brainer. You gotta do something, either requeen, split or combine the hot hive. I always rate my hives agression on a mental scale of 1-5 with 5 being the hottest. One of the worst hives I worked lost it's queen and gave me over a dozen stings during teardown. Got another half dozen putting the hive back together after running away for a few minutes. It is pretty funny now but not at the time.
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divemaster1963
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« Reply #43 on: June 15, 2012, 12:39:31 AM »

.
Calm bees are good in migrative beekeeping

That is my main job in beekeeping. I pick up best pastures and move hives even twice during 2 moth yield season.

It is very nice to take hive in the morning and move it out. When I take off tranport cover mesh, bees do not rush on me.  It takes 2 hours and they start to forage.

Once upon a time were cedaces when I had German Black Crossings. I call them "Black Devils". Englishmen call them "National Bee".  They have everything National with big letter.

It was in beekeeping book that after treatment hives are angry 3 days. When you compare to two hours, the dirrefence is big.



I remember back at my uncles the bees back then were more aggressive in defending their hives. I think that the breeding out of the aggression to the point that they are workable without gear. they become less capable of defending the hive from pests and may even weaken them to a point that they subcome to some new disease and pests.

my personal opinion

john
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Finski
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« Reply #44 on: June 15, 2012, 09:40:02 AM »

le without gear. they become less capable of defending the hive from pests and may even weaken them to a point that they subcome to some new disease and pests.

my personal opinion

john

opinion without facts.  i remember how sick bees were in old days. Brood area was full of holes because hole was sign of dead larva.

On another hand your clever idea means that beebreeders do not understand much about diseases.

Bee diseases have developed before a human walked on earth. Man has not made those 32 diseases and pest which are in beehives.

.
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.
Language barrier NOT included
rober
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« Reply #45 on: June 15, 2012, 02:38:28 PM »

to divemaster-
 you can use the right size tupperware, ziplock bags or even plastic grocery bags taped over smoke detecters to keep from setting off alarms. dust & paint fumes can set them off too. it always better to cover them before doing any work. also when the detecters are hard wire with direct lines to the fire dept. a call to the alarm co will get the detecters disabled while you work.
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