Quantcast

Apparently angry bees

Beekeeping Forum

Help Support Beekeeping Forum:

8LGM 

New Bee
Joined
Jun 21, 2009
Messages
43
Reaction score
0
Location
uk
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
2
Hi,

Newbee asking what I guess I basic questions again.

New to bee keeping thi year with a single colony.

My colony started in May form (I believe) a cast from an unknown source. At first they were very calm and easy to handle. I am pleased that the colony has grown well over the year and I now very strong. I had to add a super earlier in the year and a month ago second, and considering their weak start I feel this is amazing growth.

Questions:

I have noticed that as the colony has grown it has become more aggressive. I’m not saying that it is dangerous but it now is showing certain aggressive attitudes that were never there before. My questions here are:

1. Is this normal that a colony become more protective as it becomes stronger? Or
2. Is this down to poor manipulations on my part? I have to admit that the time I take now is a lot longer that it was when it was just a brood box.

Secondly. I have read and was taught that the brood should now start to reduce so as to start to reduce the colony size ready for winter and also match the nectar flow. My ladies are still breeding well and in fact seem to be increasing. Is this normal for a London hive a the availability of food source may be better than other areas.

Don’t get me wrong, I am over the moon with regard to how well they have done in the year considering they came from a cast in May to a vibrant colony in August. Also considering that all the book say “no honey” in the first year and here I am with one and a half supper of honey.

The thing is that I am here for the bees and not what they produce and I am concened with is that I am (by my action) producing an anti-social colony (not good in London).

Any advice would be appreciated;.
 
Last edited:

wbchive 

House Bee
Joined
Aug 15, 2009
Messages
112
Reaction score
0
Location
Bingley, West Yorkshire
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
3
I have to admit that the time I take now is a lot longer that it was when it was just a brood box.
You hit the nail on the head! As the colony gets bigger it takes longer to inspect so it's open for longer, so there's more time for bees to get narked and fly up. Also, because it's bigger, there are just more bees to fly. It's not any shortcoming on your part, it's just the way it is.

Are they becoming aggressive, or just more vigorously defensive? Do they sting a lot? Do they attack you as you approach the hive? Do they persistently follow you and try to sting after you have left the hive and walked away? Most important of all - do they bother your neighbours if they're in your garden, or passers by if they're in an out-apiary?

If they don't do any of these things, then they're not really aggressive. Do you use cover cloths to keep the bees down on the frames you're not interested in? They help a lot to prevent flying up. Do you use enough smoke? Don't get hung up on the "less is more" philosophy - if they need plenty of smoke then give them it.

They may just be "feisty" rather than aggressive, and if you've got a major honey flow on they may be resentful of your interference. Bees on heather can turn from kittens to tigers just because they want to get on with the job, then when they come home they're back to kittens again.

There's a well established but unproven belief in beekeeping circles that feisty bees make the most honey. Your colony sounds as if they are supporting that theory.

Sorry about the long answer. If you are really concerned you could get one of the old hands in your local association to come and open the hive with you. They'd know whether your bees are aggressive enough to worry about.

Steve
 

Heather 

Queen Bee
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Messages
4,038
Reaction score
5
Location
Newick, East Sussex
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
17
and I think they are just being more protective as their food stock for winter is being (to their mind) 'disturbed'.
A very normal reaction and some bees are more protective than others. If they are queenright, and it sounds as though all is well - they will be back to being well behaved next Spring. Hang on in there.

I have one such colony, and in a despairing moment as I beat them off :ack2:, I felt like torching the hive!!! but after reflection I calmed down. They were just protecting their home.- The rest of my hives are a consolating joy to check in comparison
 

8LGM 

New Bee
Joined
Jun 21, 2009
Messages
43
Reaction score
0
Location
uk
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
2
Hi Steve (wbchive),

Today was the first time that a bee followed me around (aggressively). They don't attach me a I approach the hive although 2 days ago I way was strung on the face (with no warning) when I was observing the hive from a previously safe area.

Sting a lot - no. only person is me and that is down on the whole to my own stupidity.

As I say my main concern is the neighbours. If I can warn them ( they are very bee friendly due to my involving them in the hive from day one)

I think your advice is 100% , I'll get a local BK to advie me. At the end all I what is a content hive and comfortable neighbours,

Thank for the advice.

Richard
 
Last edited:

wbchive 

House Bee
Joined
Aug 15, 2009
Messages
112
Reaction score
0
Location
Bingley, West Yorkshire
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
3
Hi Steve (wbchive),
2 days ago I way was strung on the face (with no warning) when I was observing the hive from a previously safe area.

Richard
About 15 years ago I was on holiday in Northumberland with wife and kids. We were up on the moors at heather time and we saw some hives surprisingly close to the road so we stopped the car and my son (then 5 years old) and I went to have a look. We were about 40 metres away and my son said, "Won't they sting us, Dad?"
"No, son," I replied, "They're much too busy to bother about us." As the last word left my lips one of the little sods stung me on the forehead. It is one of my son's most treasured holiday memories!

Steve
 

DulwichGnome 

Field Bee
Joined
May 7, 2009
Messages
534
Reaction score
0
Location
SE London, UK
Hive Type
other
Number of Hives
8 & 5 nucs all Rose
Hi Richard, where abouts in London are you?

I had one colony this year which was feisty most of the time but turned into diver bombers after I went in to the BB, would follow 20M and wait till I had my veil off then go for me. They are divided up and requeened now.

As for bring in stores, I saw one today that is still finding masses and others, 5 miles away, that were not!

If you are not in contact with other beekeepers, get down to your nearest association and if that does not suit you find one that does.

Mike.
 

Poly Hive 

Queen Bee
Joined
Dec 4, 2008
Messages
13,655
Reaction score
2
Location
Scottish Borders
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
9 and 18 Nucs
Bees on a good flow (including Heather) I found were in pretty good moods.

When the flow was halted/interrupted they turned defensive. Especially on mono crops, notably OSR and Heather.

When working your colony use plenty of smoke. Smoke the entrance first, wait for a few minutes, and then remove the supers and cover them. Work the brood box, replace the excluder and to be honest the weight of the supers will tell you whether you need to add one or not. There is no need to go through supers frame by frame. Pointless really.

PH
 

hedgerow pete 

Queen Bee
Joined
Jan 26, 2009
Messages
3,660
Reaction score
3
Location
UK, Birmingham, Sandwell. Pork scratching Bandit c
Hive Type
national
i agree with the others about preparing for winter etc etc but can i just add one point and that is my little rant about swarms and my hatred of them, very nice and all that and yes its a start that you did not have blah blah blah

but please consider the idea of putting ones hand in ones pocket and spending £20 or what ever with say easuy bee and buying a new and gaurnteed quality queen rather than hoping that whats avarived with pot luck stays that way, yes i know every one will shout at me but i was trained by may beeks and all of them looked down at swarms, you are by rights getting a new swarmy stock so do something about it, consider a new queen please
 

Haughton Honey 

Drone Bee
Joined
Apr 15, 2009
Messages
1,237
Reaction score
0
Location
South Cheshire
Hive Type
commercial
Number of Hives
Lots of Commercial hives.......
I have found out to my peril that bees under continued attack from wasps at this time of year (and it's a bad year for them I understand) will be quite tetchy!
 

Crg 

House Bee
Joined
Mar 6, 2009
Messages
330
Reaction score
0
Location
London, UK
Hive Type
other
please consider the idea of putting ones hand in ones pocket and spending £20 or what ever with say easuy bee and buying a new and gaurnteed quality queen rather than hoping that whats avarived with pot luck stays that way
I couldn't agree more, however in my experience it seems a lot of new beekeepers ignore that advice and have to learn why the hard way.
 

ribblesbees 

House Bee
Joined
Jul 3, 2009
Messages
237
Reaction score
0
Location
Doncaster in GWC
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
1 + 20 or so solitary bees' nests
Totally agree, I'm sure nothing boosts a new beeks confidence than having a good quality queen and a docile hive to deal with. Mine are like that and only get tetchy/upset when there is an onslaught of wasps.

I wonder how many people stake up keeping bees with aggressive bees and consequently get stung often and so get no enjoyment/confidence and then give up after a relatively short while.

bee-smillie
 

Stiffy 

Joined
Jul 11, 2009
Messages
2,282
Reaction score
3
Location
Kernow
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
50+
i agree with the others about preparing for winter etc etc but can i just add one point and that is my little rant about swarms and my hatred of them, very nice and all that and yes its a start that you did not have blah blah blah

but please consider the idea of putting ones hand in ones pocket and spending £20 or what ever with say easuy bee and buying a new and gaurnteed quality queen rather than hoping that whats avarived with pot luck stays that way, yes i know every one will shout at me but i was trained by may beeks and all of them looked down at swarms, you are by rights getting a new swarmy stock so do something about it, consider a new queen please
I know I am a new Beek and stand to be corrected but why recommend spending £20 on a queen from Easybee?
As I understand it the queens from there are Carniolians, a very swarmy strain and prone to be monsters when bred with other strains. Surely his best bet would be to get a local queen or if unavailable one from somewhere like Bickerstaffes?
 

oliver90owner 

Queen Bee
Joined
Jul 15, 2009
Messages
15,628
Reaction score
26
Location
Lincolnshire
Hive Type
14x12
If everyone were go on a course, they should see some bees and be able to easily assess the temperament of their own bees.

I didn't go on a course when I started but I did have a mentor during the first season. When I eventually got hold of some 'pussy-cat' docile bees I realised how feisty the others were. It doesn't really bother me, but I would not keep those early colonies, or one or two I have now, in my back garden.

Even having had a course does not give one the experience of a whole season in those six weeks

Regards, RAB
 

tkwinston4 

Field Bee
Joined
Mar 9, 2009
Messages
540
Reaction score
0
Location
WBC/Smith/National/nucs in Horsham, West Sussex.
Hive Type
smith
Number of Hives
7
I got a swarm early July. Lovely bunch they were and have expanded really well.
In recent weeks I have taken three stings. Not a problem for me because I understand they are just doing their job.
My question is how many stings is too many when thinking about re-queening? i.e. how will I know if they are being particularly aggressive or just being normal.
And when is the best time to re-queen? I have just read your advice about re-queening a swarm because of the tendency to swarm already being there, so I want to put that bit of advice into action as soon as poss. Thanks.
 

Knoxen 

New Bee
Joined
Mar 7, 2009
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Location
London
Hive Type
other
How long is a piece of string?

I would think about whether the stings were in aggression or accidental - eg the beekeeper squashing a bee whilst picking up a frame, bees getting caught in hair/clothing etc. Accidental stings hurt but they don't really count towards measuring the aggression of your colony.

Apart from that I'd say you'll know when it's too many!
 

ribblesbees 

House Bee
Joined
Jul 3, 2009
Messages
237
Reaction score
0
Location
Doncaster in GWC
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
1 + 20 or so solitary bees' nests
It can also depend on if the hive has been under attack from wasps and other robbers as this can make normally docile bees somewhat aggressive. We have 3 hives in a row and all three are normally pussy-cats. Last Friday we both got stung (only once each) by bees from one of the end hives and they seemed quite aggressive. On watching however, we noticed quite a large number of wasps targeting this particular hive and that the wasp traps were rather full. (There were very few if any around the other two hives) As tkwinston4 mentioned, they were probably only doing their job of defending their hive especially if wasps are in the area.

bee-smillie
 

admin 

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2008
Messages
6,393
Reaction score
1
Location
Hampshire uk
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
6
I find bee's that follow far worse than bees that are aggresive around the hive at times.

Any hive I find that have followers only get 2 chances,then her ladyship gets it..
 

Onge 

Field Bee
Joined
May 24, 2009
Messages
839
Reaction score
0
Location
Cambridge
Hive Type
langstroth
Number of Hives
9 Medium Poly, mostly foundation-less. Some run as Warre TBH
Being defensive is fine by me but as admin says followers are the ones you do not want to have.
 

mark s 

Field Bee
Joined
Jun 9, 2009
Messages
753
Reaction score
0
Location
Isle Of Wight
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
16 + 3nuc's
i think might be doing something wrong lol as my bees are very passive they just dont seem to worry about me poking around,did an inspection on sunday and they were perfectly behaved,not an angry bee amongst them:):) long may it last
 

admin 

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2008
Messages
6,393
Reaction score
1
Location
Hampshire uk
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
6
Truth is Mark,it has taken a lot of hard work to get my Nuc's upto that standard.

I am pleased to get feedback, good and bad,if members that buy from me dont say when things are not right I have no way of knowing I need to tweek things.

The driving force to get calm bee's was my daughters wanting to help out in the Apiary.

I feel sorry for Helen,she took a good few stings to the face the first year.
She never moaned once,my wife used to do that for her when we got home :)
 

Latest posts

Top