- May 24, 2020
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Agree there is a lot to be said for the beekeeper and their keeping style. Mine calmed down even more when I used water spray rather than smoke over the Summer and I've noticed the more gentle you are the calmer they are next time. They remember!I've found that a lot of bees that are classed as bad temperament become pussycats when they are handled properly ... I helped out a new beekeeper this year who was complaining that his bees were the bees from hell. I watched him inspect the first hive which was, (according to him) the better of the two - he swamped them in smoke through the entrance, then crashed the crownboard off and they came up at us like the swarm from hell .....I just told him to shut them up and leave them be.
I then did the second hive, gently cracked the crownboard, tiny puff of smoke before I lifted it - gave them time, pulled the end frame out (there was no dummy board) and very gently went through the frames .... you would hardly think the bees noticed that we were there ... They were buckies and really very calm.
So ... yes, there are agressive colonies and depending on the weather and the forage they can be unpleasant to handle but I rather suspect that the way some beekeepers handle their inspections may be as much to blame as the bees.
The bloke I was helping had taken his inspection technique from some USA You tube videos .... scary ! He tells me his bees have now completely changed and are a joy to handle ....I do wonder.
My bees are mainly small black ones - three colonies from Ceri Morgan queens ... plus a few colonies of local mongrels which are also predominantly small and black. I've really never had much of a problem with any of my colonies - past or present - although I have experienced a few that have been really unpleasant to even get near let alone inspect and one colony, sold to a new beekeeper as a 'good colony', that were true haridens ... Vile, stingy, defensive, following ... ghastly experience and requeening them was a nightmare. It put the poor woman off beekeeping altogether and she gave up - although after requeening the bees were much better.
Buckies from a reputable breeder seem to me to be a good starter bee for anyone coming in to the craft - on balance they do seem to offer enough good traits to get a new beek off the ground without too many problems.