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Author Topic: Aggressive bees or is this normal?  (Read 1857 times)
Beehappy
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« on: April 19, 2006, 10:37:53 PM »

I finally made time to inspect my hives for the 1st time this year. I am starting my 3rd season with 3 hives. Hive # 1 has 3 deep boxes. The top box was 8 frames full of capped honey with the other 2 frames 75% capped. I lifted that box off to inspect the second box beneath it. Found Queen cells that broke off when I lifted a frame out. Lifted another frame out and both frames had uncapped honey and brood with some pollen. The bees were starting to get angry by now and were flying into my veil and smashing into my helmet. shocked I was fully suited up but I was getting a little nervous so I walked about 50 yards away to let the bees simmer down. Two bees followed me and seemed kinda angry. Meanwhile my golden retriever who was sitting about 30 ft. in front of the hive started going through contortions and rolling around in the grass. I think she was geeting whacked by the angry bees. I should add at this point that I was using smoke. I went back to try and lift some more frames, but as soon as i started to touch the frame, more angry bees. So i added a super, put the cover on and went to get a drink. I was covered with sweat, its very hot here. Now for hive # 2. This hive only had 1 deep box as it was a weak hive last fall. I lifted out 3 frames and found and destroyed queen cells, but again the bees from this hive became aggressive, slamming into my veil and crashig against my helmet. I also saw honey, pollen brood and drone cells in this hive. So I walked away again chased by a couple of mad bees. So I added a super to this hive and went to get another drink of water. Hive # 3.This hive is two deep boxes. These bees seemed a little tamer. i again found and destroyed queen cells and was pulling the third frame out for inspection when I heard a whirring sound and about thirty bees came flying out attacking my gloved hands and slamming into my veil. I decided that I had enough for one session so I added a super to this hive and left, thankful that I had'nt been stung. Sorry this is so long but my question is: was I experiencing normal behavior from these bees or should I assume they may be africanized? Were they intuitively attacking because I was destroying developed queen cells and is that normal or do I have a problem? This was done on a sunny day around 2:00pm so I don't think the weather was a factor. Thanks for any thoughts.
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2006, 12:13:41 AM »

Why were you destroying the queen cells? If they have swarmed then you just messed up their future.

It could be you did something to make the first hive angry and some of the bees stung your gloves or what have you leaving the attack pheromone and inticing the others to attack. If about ten thousand bees didn't chase you a half mile I wouldn't consider them AHB.
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rainbow sunflower  Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.   rainbow sunflower

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Beehappy
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2006, 12:25:41 AM »

These were swarm cells attached to the bottom of the frames. My mentor told me to destroy them to keep the bees from swarming. I don't believe they have swarmed yet because there seemed to be a lot of bees in the hives. I'm starting to feel a little bad about scraping these queen cells off. I live in an AHB area though and thought that was what I was supposed to do.
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Jack Parr
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2006, 06:52:47 AM »

Quote from: Beehappy
These were swarm cells attached to the bottom of the frames. My mentor told me to destroy them to keep the bees from swarming. I don't believe they have swarmed yet because there seemed to be a lot of bees in the hives. I'm starting to feel a little bad about scraping these queen cells off. I live in an AHB area though and thought that was what I was supposed to do.


Me thinks you were destroying DRONE cell. The bees build those Drone cell in the spaces between the upper and lower frames. It's just what they do. While you are scraping the broken cells of look closely and you will see the V mites babies within, some 3 4 5 in a cell.

For your study assignment do a veeeeery brief search on how to provide drone cell space and also V.mite control. Essentially you can insert a drone cell frame, made for the purpose or do as Finsky does cut one of your deep frames to about  1/3 it's size and let the bees draw out drone comb in the empty space below. Active colonies build lotsa drone cells everywhere in the brood area.  That's really rudementry knowledge though.

As far as your agressive bees smiley  It seems that they do become more protective as they store more honey/food.  Are these bees ferals  smiley
In my experience, short, I have experienced such aggression with feral hives. I re-queened two of them and plan to re-queen two more after the honey flow, this coming summer or no later than when I can still obtain sweet queens.

I have taken a bath just prior to suiting up to go into those mean hives. I have applied liberal amounts of smoke and I found that smoking myself to the choking point helps a little. But once the attacks are on smoking does little to dissuade the bees.  I have sprayed sugar water on the bees and around the boxes, inside and out and that might help a little. I have found that if you are well suited and protected just bear with it and after awhile the bees become confused and the attacks more or less stop. However the bees will stink your clothing and of course that banana smell is released attracting even more stinging suicidal attacks. The experience can be intimidating no doubt but can be overcome, IF YOU AREN"T ACTULLY being stung in your body. h
However if you are actually being stung, then it's all about your ability too FEEL YOUR PAIN  wink  You know kinda like Bill and his pain feelin' ability.

I have read about the AHB's, as everyone has no doubt, but from dealing with agressive feral hives as I have done,  then dealing with AHB's will not be a pleasent experience, at all.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2006, 07:07:58 AM »

I'ts hard to say if the bees are angry because you're not very good at this yet or if they are angry because they've been messed with by a skunk or if they are angry because it's not a good day or time to be messing with them, or if they are just mean bees.  Off hand if only two of them followed you, I'd vote for that you banged them around too much, didn't smoke them enough or smoked them too much or didn't wait long enough after smoking or wait after breaking boxes or inner covers loose.  It's all in the timing.  When an inner cover is stuck down and you pry it up and it goes POP! you should wait until you hear the bees' hum go back to a normal sound.  Also slip a puff of smoke in the crack now, before you take it off.  Move in sllllloooooowwwwwww motion.  If you aren't moving a fourth as fast as normal you're moving too fast.  Then, if the bees do get upset, it's probably time to close up and come back later.

As far as destroying queen cells I've never seen that stop them from swarming.  They will just swarm anyway (if they haven't already) and end up queenless.  Quite often a hive that has swarmed still looks quite populated.  If the queen cells are capped I figure its very likely they have already swarmed.  I'd put every frame with a queen cell in a nuc with a frame of honey and get some free queens, myself.

Here's my swarm control methods:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm
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Michael Bush
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2006, 07:12:46 AM »

I guess I should focus on the original question.  Yes, a few bees attacking and getting upset on some occasions and only two of them following for a ways, is not out of the realm of normal bees on a bad day.  If they are like that everytime you open it up and your other hives are not, then I'd plan to requeen eventually.  If all your hives are like this, I'd look at your technique.

If they get worked up into a frenzy and lots of them follow you for a long ways and a long time, you have hot bees and you should requeen immeadiatlely.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
Jerrymac
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2006, 10:59:40 AM »

Michael brought up a very good point. I have given up inspections at times just because I banged a frame into the side of the hive body when removing it and made them mad. Or a frame slipped from my hands and dropped back into the space I was removing it from..... that really makes them mad and they will let you know you have messed up. "Come back when you grow up."

So if you have banged, popped, hit, thumped, just one time, they need time to calm down before proceeding.
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rainbow sunflower  Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.   rainbow sunflower

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