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4 Bad Inspections in a Row

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margob99 

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I know I'm a new beekeeper, and I know the weather's been dodgy, and I know my hives have been through some ups and downs, what with swarming and virgin queens, and mating.

But I'm SERIOUSLY getting worried about their aggression levels. I went down to inspect today, fully aware it's very windy, but very concerned that it's been 9 days since the last inspection, and once I smoked and took off the roof, the entire colony just about leapt out on me and tried to kill me.

I've never known anything like this in all my ... well, in all my short months of beekeeping! :nopity: They weren't like this AT ALL last summer!

I tried taking a couple of frames out to inspect, and there was new brood, larvae and capped brood. There's honey everywhere, and they've filled the entire brood box, brood super and a honey super above, and just seem to be boiling out at the seams. I realise I can probably add another honey super, but I'm just too flippin scared to inspect each frame properly.

Because there's so many of 'em, I'm really worried they're going to swarm AGAIN (that'll be more pissed off neighbours again)

WHAT THE HELL DO I DO!?
 

Mike a 

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First things first.

If you have joined an association ask for some help attend their meetings and gain your confidence back by handling good tempered bees. Seriously there is nothing worse you can do than ignore your bees. Chances are they will swarm again and this could really upset your neighbours.

If you have some spare equipment have it ready on the day in case its needed to split your colonies, and if you are feeling generous offer the split to another keeper to take away but subject to all your equipment being returned or replaced.

We are more than happy to help but we cant see what the problems may be but an experienced bee keeper in your local association should be more than happy to pop round if you offer them a cup of tea and biscuit or two as well.



Don't give up or ignore your your bees
 
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bobandbec 

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Pick a sunny day at about midday when a lot of the foragers will be out and about.
Wear your full bee-proof suit with good thick trousers and jumper underneath.
Put your wellies on.
Wear a wooly hat under your suit. It helps to protect your ears etc.
For gloves use thick ones if you need to.
Take all precautions necessary to make yourself feel confident that the bees will not be able to "get to you" whatever they do.
Have your smoker well lit and ready.
Maybe try using a manipulation cloth.
Then if you still don't feel confident about going into them ask for help from an experienced beekeeper.
There are ways of inspecting by moving the brood box away and therefore reducing the number of flying bees in the colony etc. but you'd probably be better of getting some help with this type of manipulation.
Good luck

Peter
 

MuswellMetro 

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I tried taking a couple of frames out to inspect, and there was new brood, larvae and capped brood. There's honey everywhere, and they've filled the entire brood box, brood super and a honey super above, and just seem to be boiling out at the seams.

WHAT THE HELL DO I DO!?

They are honeybound and will be making QCells, i expect you have carnolion bees, are they in a standard brood box?

so give them two supers ASAP, if on are on standard brood, you must go at least to brood and a half or 14x12 which is easier to work

you must never get to the stage that they have less than 1/2 of a super to fill. as soon as it is halfway, add another, in london they can fill five supers maybe more
 
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oliver90owner 

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well, in all my short months of beekeeping!

Welcome to the real world of beekeeping.

You don't tell us if these are, say, third generation from an imported queen (nationally or internationally). That may explain the degeneration from calm bees to more unruly local mongrel hybrids.

There have been warnings upon warnings, to new beeks with bees in their gardens (or at least in residential areas) about possible changes of temperament and the risks associated with bees in these situations.

They must be given adequate space or YOU WILL precipitate a swarm.


Here goes with some possible actions:

The best advice is to move them to a quieter location, away from the neighbours. In a nutshell, to your alternative site. However, I am guessing you have no alternative site?

Requeening might be an alternative, if that is the root cause for the aggression.

Immediately, I would split the colony to ward off any impending swarms (not an ideal action by any means) if they cannot be relocated. Whether you can induce supercedure cells seems to be debatable without further angst.

A better line might be to enlist the help of the local BKA, if you are a member (and even if you are not!), and see if an experienced local beek can help you out. Removal to the association apiary might give temporary respite.

It seems that you need to do something ......and soon.

Hope this helps a bit.

Regards, RAB
 

dudley 

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I am fairly new to beekeeping, but joined my local beekeeping association and have a couple of mentors a phone call away. If you are not a member of a club it is well worth the modest membership cost.
Until today I have not had a problem with my hives or swarms being angry. But I HAD to transfer a five frame nuc into a brood box today as they were bursting at the seems and I need the nuc box for the planned collection of a swarm in a house tomorrow (weather permitting).
Here in Kent today it was quite windy and I was reluctant to do it, but I worked as quickly and carefully as possible. But the bees did not like it, as I moved my hands and hive tool around they were pouncing on them, not stinging, but it looked as though they were checking me out in a panic. I put it down to the weather.
 

Polyanwood 

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There are a few beekeeping associations in London. The London Beekeepers are Southside, and the North London Beekeepers are Northside and the Ealing beekeepers and others. Get some help. Your calamity might be someone else's most useful thing they have done all week. Good Luck.
 
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rae 

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Full hive and bad weather yesterday is a recipe for grumpy bees today. Is there anything around them making them especially stressed? One of our hives gets really annoyed with engines and wasps - hay harvest in late summer is a time to avoid inspecting them!

- More space - if they are rammed with stores they will be grumpy (no work to do) and be preparing for a swarm.

- Manipulation cloth - it does help, if only to reduce the number of flying bees

- Midday inspection - foragers will be out, and they're the ones that will be defensive

- Help from an experienced Beek. Having a hive go nuts on you is nasty, confidence in such a situation really helps.

Also - you're asking for trouble with brood and a half. Nothing wrong with doing it, but it simply means more frames to inspect, more opportunity to annoy them.
 
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Midland Beek 

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You have ruled out one obvious thing that can cause excessive aggressiveness and that is starvation - your bees have plenty of honey.

The second is the type of aggressiveness which you can get linked to swarming and queenlessness, and having had your bees already swarm this year doesn't rule it out again.

My advice is as follows:

1/ Keep inspections simple. Look for two main things: brood at all stages, including eggs, and absence of queen cells. These two things tell you that your colony is pretty okay; no need to look for the queen everytime.

2/ Using a larger brood area is likely to reduce swarming. Single National brood boxes are just too small; consider using two.

3/ For £30 you can try requeening. You might well have bees that are plain aggressive.
 

OXFORDBEE 

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Hi,

Just to add to what has already been posted:

Get someone at the local beekeeping club to come and visit you and see how you are managing your bees. Make sure they check you are opening the hive correctly and see what kit you have and what you urgently need. The most important thing at this time is to get your confidence back an get in control of the current situation.

If you are worried about your neighbours then you might want to think about moving the bees out of your garden away from the neighbours to a site where they can be brought under control without causing problems with the people you live next to.

Once you are more confident in managing the bees you can always bring them home.

Good luck!
 

margob99 

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All of your replies are useful; thank you very much, guys. These are the context issues you're asking about:

1. Primary hive comes from a swarm collected in June last year, so it's hard to know their genetic source; they are/were feral, essentially. Last year they were extremely calm and easy to work with. Queen was superceded some time last summer, and still they were calm. Kept them in a single brood box until beginning of this summer when I went to brood-and-a-half (which is horribly cumbersome).

They have one super above the brood and a half, and thinking on it last night, I agree, they need a second super ASAP. I have one ready, and would like to make that the last item on an urgent hive inspection - but an inspection that I really must do under the auspices of a more experienced beekeeper.

2. They swarmed 1 month ago, and then cast again 3 days later. I kept the first swarm; with last year's queen, and this hive is grumpy now too. Single brood box nearby, no supers on top, they have drawn at least 5 of the 10 new frames (they got one feed straight after being hived).

3. I use smoker, layer up lots in terms of my clothing, I also use a manipulation cloth. Unfortunately last 4 inspections, although at midday, have been plagued by not-the-best-of-weathers. I agree, that contributed to the problems...

4. I'm a member of a nearby association (and did a beginner beekeeper course through them, but practical learning was limited by disease and bad weather); which has very stretched resources, but I will try calling them tonight.

5. Alternatively, MuswellMetro, you are indeed very close to me, just down the road in fact - I will PM you, and thank you.

I absolutely acknowledge that I've "gung-ho'd" myself into a beekeeping situation I should've progressed into more cautiously, and not only that, done it in the confines of my suburban garden - fair point, not the wisest of starts, particularly without a mentor. That said, these bees seem to be incredibly resilient - and seem to prevail, and even thrive, more or less in spite of me :)


Edited to add: I agree that the biggest issue for me to resolve is just to make sure I don't lose my confidence. But I'll keep plugging away cos I hate anything to get the better of me ...
 
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oliver90owner 

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Read a bit (not a lot) of your blog, website - or whatever it is called, after replying last evening. You do sound very confident and there semed to be no hint of your 'capitalised' shout for HELP in those writings. Thought there were two different people writing, the styles were so different!

Hope I was not too direct! (the forum police might be looking in) but that was as much for them (probably over their heads) and other new beeks, or even prospective new beeks, to try to get across the potential safety risks with bees. You may be well covered, secure against stings, but what about those 'innocent' neighbours just waiting to complain!

When I started, my bees were far enough away from people and it was a good job they were! Some were aggressive followers. I did not know what nice docile bees were really like until I picked up a swarm one day. I hived them in in my garden and expected to move them out almost immediately. But they were right pussycats. Didn't need much protection, they were so quiet.

I have kept some bees there nearly all the time since, but only docile colonies which are fairly benign in temper, even when stirred. Any that show signs of aggression are moved to one of my several sites available - I don't really call them out-apiaries.

I am surprised they threw a cast only 3 days after the prime swarm - the weather must have been bad for them not to leave when the first cell was capped! Now, if both colonies have the same amount of 'grumpiness' it is more likely an environmental issue rather than genetic. You still need that alternative site though - doesn't really matter what causes the problem, it is there! You will get a nasty queen at some point if you continue to take pot luck with the matings of your succesive queens.

I have 'eked' all my standard Nationals. I think I may have one box that was 14 x 12 flat pack, but cannot remember. One problem you may encounter with the jumbo boxes is the weight; they are heavy - very heavy for most of the fairer sex! And for the forum police, that is not being sexist in any way.

I am sure someone (MM or local BKA) will help to sort them out and you can go on from here with increased confidence.

Regards, RAB
 

MuswellMetro 

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There are a few beekeeping associations in London. The London Beekeepers are Southside, and the North London Beekeepers are Northside and the Ealing beekeepers and others. Get some help. Your calamity might be someone else's most useful thing they have done all week. Good Luck.

i have been in contact she is memeber of a middx federated BKA but lives in LB Barnet and Barnet and district BKa (my BKA) are as near as the nearest Middx fed bka whick is North London BKA but it is their area if you use the old middx boundaries rather LB boroughs designation


...i have to drive pass her house to get to my apiary in NW7 LOL
 
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margob99 

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It's a small old world! Thank you MuswellMetro for the chat and advice on the phone earlier; sorry I interrupted by getting distracted when Uruguay scored their first goal :)

Well, everyone I've spoken to today has advised me, in amongst a whole lot of other advice, to take it easy, calm down, don't panic. So I won't. Just yet! :)
 

Haughton Honey 

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i have been in contact she is memeber of a middx federated BKA but lives in LB Barnet and Barnet and district BKa (my BKA) are as near as the nearest Middx fed bka whick is North London BKA but it is their area if you use the old middx boundaries rather LB boroughs designation


...i have to drive pass her house to get to my apiary in NW7 LOL


NW7?....Barnet?.....North London?......Middx?........???

Are these places south of the Watford Gap 'cos I've never heard of them?!

:D
 

MuswellMetro 

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NW7?....Barnet?.....North London?......Middx?........???

Are these places south of the Watford Gap 'cos I've never heard of them?!

:D
watford gap, is that north or south of scotland

lovely london 8 million people live within 15 miles of central london, and my hives are in London NW7 and within 7 miles of central london , and set in open contryside that few londoners ever realise it is there , no mono culture, no lost hedges, small fields of pasture

I can use my over 60 travel pass to travel there by london underground for free.... looks of atonishment from fellow travelors if i can't be bothered to take off my white bee suit on and london Tube are marvelous...if he a space man, said one little boy to his mum

next time you pass the M25 and travel down the M1 look to the left and wave as you pass the Service station i might see you:driving:
 
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margob99 

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Just wanted to let you all know that I snuck up to my primary hive very quietly this afternoon, and surreptitiously added a second super on top. Also removed mouse guards to give them a bigger "landing strip" entrance with less congestion while they're so actively foraging in the heat. They were pussycats, and it felt very reassuring. Spent hours just sitting nearby watching the action - quite interesting because I saw lots of drones flying in an out; more than I've ever seen. I'm off to a practical class this evening. So I'm working on the loss of confidence thing; thanks for buoying me up :) I'm glad I joined this forum!
 

MuswellMetro 

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Also removed mouse guards to give them a bigger "landing strip" entrance with less congestion while they're so actively foraging in the heat. They were pussycats, and it felt very reassuring. !
Do you mean mouse gard or entrance block?. if it was a metal mouse guard that could be your problem it should have been off in April/May...the drones can not get out...or was it on to try to stop a swarming queen, as that normally doesn't work because the bees slim her down

this time of year, i have the entrance block out to aid them evaporate the honey and only put it back if wasp or robbings occurs
 

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