Advice for re-queening and aggressive hive

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
Joined
May 27, 2020
Messages
51
Reaction score
17
Location
Surrey
Hive Type
None
We have 5 hives, they are about 2m apart from each other. In the last week or so we have noticed that we have been getting a lot of defensive/aggressive followers that take a bit of getting rid of. We have been walking over 100m from the hives to loose them.

Today we were met as we approached the hives, maybe 10m from the hives by unfriendly bees, and by the time we started trying to inspect we were in a cloud of angry bees. We stopped and I came back a hour later to see if something had upset them, but it was exactly the same.

We think we know which hive it is, although it could be anyone of them, or more than one. Before we were at this apiary we visited a small colony we got as a swarm about two weeks ago and have hived at a 'quarantine' apiary, and they could not have been gentler bees, so its not our bee suits or my deodorant that's upsetting our other bees.

We have been told and read that we have to re-queen this hive and dispatch the queen from an overly defensive/aggressive colony.

My questions are:
If we find and remove the queen from the colony we suspect is the problem, possibly to a temporary NUC, how soon after removing her from the hive would we expect to see a change in temperament from the colony.
If the colony raise emergency queen cells, could we let them re-queen from these queen cells, or will temperament be the same - i.e do we need to find another queen - we don't have one.
Could we let them raise queen cells, knock them all back on day 6 - introduce a frame of eggs from a better tempered colony, and ensure that only a queen cell from the donor frame makes it to day 16.
Are there any tricks of tips to try and identify the horrible hive - should close the entrance and see what the apiary is like with these bees locked-in? How long can we keep the entrance closed, I've been told that they should be fine for 3 days - they have plenty of stores

Are there any other suggestions?

Thanks.
 
Keeping them locked in in current weather is a disaster.
Make them requeen from the eggs of a nice colony.
Or euthanase them and start again, depending on how much of a problem they are. They will probably get worse when queenless!!
 
They will probably get worse when queenless!!
You are probably right so I would try @ericbeaumont ’s trick of caging the queen until all larvae are too old then removing the cage and introducing the eggs from a calmer colony.
 
The queen is the problem but the symptom
is the defensive offspring
A different queen may well sort it out and you may see some improvement almost straight away but it will take a couple of months before all the old queens workers have all died out.
One way of identifying the problem hive is to only approach from the back so the guards cannot see you (or put up a temporary screen in front) and only open one up per session.The one that follows you are the issue.
Euthanasia is the last resort but if they become a problem to Joe Public then that option creeps rapidly nearer the top of the list
 
If we find and remove the queen from the colony we suspect is the problem, possibly to a temporary NUC, how soon after removing her from the hive would we expect to see a change in temperament from the colony.
immediately - you have made them queenless, they will, within minutes change from unpleasant to totally vile
 
If the colony raise emergency queen cells, could we let them re-queen from these queen cells, or will temperament be the same
No, don't let them do that, and yes, the temperament is likely to be very similar.

do we need to find another queen - we don't have one
You can buy queens!

Could we let them raise queen cells, knock them all back on day 6 - introduce a frame of eggs from a better tempered colony, and ensure that only a queen cell from the donor frame makes it to day 16.
Yes, but save the pain of finding EQCs by caging her between top bars for seven days. Even when you cage her it's worth checking for EQCs, just in case they realise that something's up, but the hard work will have been avoided.
 
If you are not sure of the hive then if it at all possible, with a net catch a few of the nasty bees. Roll in flour and release. See which hive they return too. It has worked for me in the past
 
The queen is the problem but the symptom
is the defensive offspring
A different queen may well sort it out and you may see some improvement almost straight away but it will take a couple of months before all the old queens workers have all died out.
One way of identifying the problem hive is to only approach from the back so the guards cannot see you (or put up a temporary screen in front) and only open one up per session.The one that follows you are the issue.
Euthanasia is the last resort but if they become a problem to Joe Public then that option creeps rapidly nearer the top of the list
All the hives face away from the approach path, but they were on us before we got to the hives.

We will try to re-queen from nice eggs, or could I remove the queen and combine with another colony, or as they are very defensive is that unlikely to help?

If euthanasia is to be considered how would I do it? We are generally very gentle beekeepers and go out of our way to avoid squashing or harming bees, so this would be a big step for us.
 
It's a last resort but could ultimately be the responsible thing to do
Part of the job sometimes however unpleasant.- I find myself apologizing to queens just before I squish them:rolleyes:

Some do it with petrol while others achieve it with soapy water and reuse the kit.

Requeening by combining colonies will still take weeks for all the problem bees to die off but while theyre there at least they will be boosting the good colony
If no one else is getting savaged at the momentit's worth a try.
But you do need to improve the gene pool even if it's just by selecting collected swarms if you can't afford some F1s
 
euthanasia is to be considered
That is not the way to deal with this.

Years ago my neighbour had her cat put down. Reason? It was a bit feisty feral, but that was only part of it. Really, she didn't like that it had a skin allergy to fleas...
 
That is not the way to deal with this.

Years ago my neighbour had her cat put down. Reason? It was a bit feisty feral, but that was only part of it. Really, she didn't like that it had a skin allergy to fleas...
I would kill the queen and unite immediately via newspaper with a nice hive. Finding the queen is your problem
 
Finding the queen is your problem
move the colony a few yards away leaving an empty box in it's stead. wait half an hour or so and all the flying bees (the ones that do the mischief) will be there, leaving you a hive with just the nurse bees to go through
 
All the hives face away from the approach path, but they were on us before we got to the hives.

We will try to re-queen from nice eggs, or could I remove the queen and combine with another colony, or as they are very defensive is that unlikely to help?

If euthanasia is to be considered how would I do it? We are generally very gentle beekeepers and go out of our way to avoid squashing or harming bees, so this would be a big step for us.
I would requeen, not euthanasia of the colony
 
Wear extra clothing underneath,moving the hive can help a lot but Ive had one early this year that were insane even with the flyers bled off, as recommended.
We (three of us being pelted and with veils loaded with howling bees) eventually found the queen on the third pass by taking individual frames away ten feet again from the already moved box.
It took two weeks to notice any change in behaviour but gradually improved over six.
 
Just an update, and thanks for all the advice.

A far more experienced beekeeper has helped me move the colony to a isolation apiary where these bees will be far less of a problem for the general public, and he also want's to see what happens and if he can improve their temperament.

These bees were horrible. We moved the hive 5m and tried to bleed off the fliers, but when we closed the NUC (put in place of the hive) to move it as well, when we opened it there were very few bees in it.

The hive was double brood and two supers, so too big to carry and put in my car, so splitting it and adding travel mesh boards was a bit emotional. Trying to fit the entrance block just brought them streaming out of the hive, in the end a car sponge was used to block the entrance - then lots of gaffa tape. I thought I'd encountered defensive bees before, but this was worse, standing in a cloud of angry bees, pinging the veil constantly and trying to get through the suit.

The colony has now been split, one brood box will have the queen, one won't, both have eggs. The idea is to see if the colony with the new queen will be noticeably calmer or if they will carry on as they are. Either way, I'm not sure I want the colony back, not unless we re-queen from eggs from one of the calm colonies, but for now the problem is solved.
 

Latest posts

Back
Top