Do colonies become more aggressive as the Queen gets older?

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

jenkinsbrynmair 

International Beekeeper of Mystery
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
28,184
Reaction score
5,919
Location
Glanaman,Carmarthenshire,Wales
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
Too many - but not nearly enough
@Troutdog, I am guessing that you are not resident in the UK. Would be helpful if you added your location to give some context to your beekeeping experiences and practices.
I think we can guess - with the mention of open feeding with no regard to the fact that, as well as spreading disease, it can encourage robbing
 

Finman 

Queen Bee
Joined
Nov 8, 2008
Messages
26,615
Reaction score
964
Location
Finland, Helsinki
Hive Type
langstroth
If your bees are too defensive look at larger picture
Defensive ?
And then what is TOO defensive.

I look larger picture. And I do not need much excuses when I replace the defensive queen. It does not need any philosophy.

I go to help my fried when she tells that her hive come after her to the outdoor. I give to her a normal queen, which does not follow. No bigger picture is needed.
 

The Poot 

Field Bee
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Feb 15, 2015
Messages
868
Reaction score
868
Location
Dorset
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
Only 2 now
I think people get too easily confused between aggressive colonies and defensive ones
BIG difference
I’m confused and seeking clarification please.
Troutdog stated “there is a time when population exceeds forage and this forced scale down of brood rearing makes them a bit more cranky”

I have this situation - honey being consumed more than stored, as forage is in short supply, together with poor weather. Brambles are not in flower much here yet - loads of buds still developing.
I was dead heading roses and was buzzed by a bee, so retreated, dumped my stuff onto the compost and walked back to the garden to be met by a sting right between the eyes.
The weather was hot, sunny, humid with the threat of thunder, which may not have helped.
Aggression of defensiveness? This is my first sting of 2021 but I’ve been followed by a few after inspections recently. I’m hoping once the flow improves so will their temper???
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

International Beekeeper of Mystery
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
28,184
Reaction score
5,919
Location
Glanaman,Carmarthenshire,Wales
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
Too many - but not nearly enough
I’m confused and seeking clarification please.
Troutdog stated “there is a time when population exceeds forage and this forced scale down of brood rearing makes them a bit more cranky”

I have this situation - honey being consumed more than stored, as forage is in short supply, together with poor weather. Brambles are not in flower much here yet - loads of buds still developing.
I was dead heading roses and was buzzed by a bee, so retreated, dumped my stuff onto the compost and walked back to the garden to be met by a sting right between the eyes.
The weather was hot, sunny, humid with the threat of thunder, which may not have helped.
Aggression of defensiveness? This is my first sting of 2021 but I’ve been followed by a few after inspections recently. I’m hoping once the flow improves so will their temper???
Sounds like defensiveness. with a dearth on they are jealous of their stores, weather would wind them up even more so yes they would get temporarily more agressive.
 

The Poot 

Field Bee
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Feb 15, 2015
Messages
868
Reaction score
868
Location
Dorset
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
Only 2 now
Sounds like defensiveness. with a dearth on they are jealous of their stores, weather would wind them up even more so yes they would get temporarily more agressive.
That’s my take on it too, but I wondered if it is wishful thinking.
Thanks for the reply Jenks.
 

pargyle 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Oct 16, 2012
Messages
13,645
Reaction score
3,830
Location
Fareham, Hampshire UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
6
That’s my take on it too, but I wondered if it is wishful thinking.
Thanks for the reply Jenks.
I can tolerate a colony being defensive once, I may give them a second chance but followers I won't allow - not in a garden apiary and as for bees that sting for no reason ... if this has been happening previously .... time to buy in a queen and depose the old one.

In my book ...one last chance and if they don't behave - they get a new ruler ! (No need for petrol).
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

International Beekeeper of Mystery
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
28,184
Reaction score
5,919
Location
Glanaman,Carmarthenshire,Wales
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
Too many - but not nearly enough
I can tolerate a colony being defensive once, I may give them a second chance but followers I won't allow
Had to move a hive from a garden apiary I run to the ASBO plot this spring. all in all they were OK, a bit tetchier than most on inspection but well within the tolerable behaviour parameters but as well as for a few hours after inspection, but regularly a lone guard bee would just venture out and pick on an innocent bystander two hundred yards away, Mark (who asked me to site the hives there) was well used to bees as his late father was a beekeeper, but enough was enough after a few weeks of the behaviour carrying on they were moved (requeening was not an option at that time)
 

Troutdog 

New Bee
Joined
Apr 26, 2021
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Number of Hives
200
I’m confused and seeking clarification please.
Troutdog stated “there is a time when population exceeds forage and this forced scale down of brood rearing makes them a bit more cranky”

I have this situation - honey being consumed more than stored, as forage is in short supply, together with poor weather. Brambles are not in flower much here yet - loads of buds still developing.
I was dead heading roses and was buzzed by a bee, so retreated, dumped my stuff onto the compost and walked back to the garden to be met by a sting right between the eyes.
The weather was hot, sunny, humid with the threat of thunder, which may not have helped.
Aggression of defensiveness? This is my first sting of 2021 but I’ve been followed by a few after inspections recently. I’m hoping once the flow improves so will their temper???
So short answer is attitude improves with forage. Your AMM are a bit more cranky than our mutts here in upstate NY. Same rules apply just like people full belly less likely to behave poorly.
I put a pail feeder out the day before I'm working the hives when conditions are as you describe and that allows me to work the hives in peace as the hudlums are busy and its just nurse bees at home.
I had an African swarm commandeer a hive here and that taught me a lot. Aggressive bees are no joke and smoke doesn't work lol.
1 stingf for the whole year man that's a good day around here.
Try the pail feeder it does not increase robbing if you have it at least 40m away from hives.
Bees know winter is coming and frustrated they can't find forage. Yeah I can hear Finnman and the rest of the choir, but that's been a good help fir me. I have over 200 nucs and colonies in 12 locations in a secondary environment.....meaning less than bountiful. 21 yrs into this adventure, and this is just what has worked for me. I am far away from other hives so I'm not feeding neighborhood colonies.
Cheers

Moderators note. The practice highlighted in bold is common in the USA. It is frowned upon and definitely not recommended in the UK
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Little_bees 

Field Bee
***
Joined
Feb 6, 2019
Messages
741
Reaction score
451
Location
Essex
Hive Type
national
I put a pail feeder out the day before I'm working the hives when conditions are as you describe and that allows me to work the hives in peace as the hudlums are busy and its just nurse bees at home.
Open feeding, as used in some states, is seriously frowned upon here, due mainly to spreading of disease. Anyway, in your case, you may not have neighbouring beekeepers but can't know all the surrounding wild colonies.
 

The Poot 

Field Bee
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Feb 15, 2015
Messages
868
Reaction score
868
Location
Dorset
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
Only 2 now
So short answer is attitude improves with forage. Your AMM are a bit more cranky than our mutts here in upstate NY. Same rules apply just like people full belly less likely to behave poorly.
I put a pail feeder out the day before I'm working the hives when conditions are as you describe and that allows me to work the hives in peace as the hudlums are busy and its just nurse bees at home.
I had an African swarm commandeer a hive here and that taught me a lot. Aggressive bees are no joke and smoke doesn't work lol.
1 stingf for the whole year man that's a good day around here.
Try the pail feeder it does not increase robbing if you have it at least 40m away from hives.
Bees know winter is coming and frustrated they can't find forage. Yeah I can hear Finnman and the rest of the choir, but that's been a good help fir me. I have over 200 nucs and colonies in 12 locations in a secondary environment.....meaning less than bountiful. 21 yrs into this adventure, and this is just what has worked for me. I am far away from other hives so I'm not feeding neighborhood colonies.
Cheers
Another day of dark clouds and showers today. Bees not very active - certainly not like you’d expect of a July day, so another day of reduction of stores. Forecast is for things to warm up and dry up as the week progresses, so I’ll see how the bees respond to an improved income. I certainly won’t be open feeding. I will look to requeen if their crankiness doesn’t subside back to their earlier, calm temperament.
 

gmonag 

Field Bee
***
Joined
Oct 23, 2017
Messages
949
Reaction score
813
Location
Nr. Bury St Edmunds, UK
Hive Type
other
Number of Hives
6 Rose Hives
..I put a pail feeder out the day before I'm working the hives when conditions are as you describe and that allows me to work the hives in peace as the hudlums are busy and its just nurse bees at home...
I would be be seriously annoyed with any beekeeper that open-fed sugar near me. I do not feed sugar to my bees (except in rare emergency cases) and would not be pleased to have my honey adulterated.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

International Beekeeper of Mystery
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
28,184
Reaction score
5,919
Location
Glanaman,Carmarthenshire,Wales
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
Too many - but not nearly enough
Try the pail feeder
I entreat anybody who reads this kind of 'advice' to do no such thing. Apart from the fact that it does trigger large scale robbing, it's very antisocial and a great way to spread disease
 

Moobee 

House Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
303
Reaction score
251
Location
Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
3
Sorry for the long read but any advice would be gratefully received.

I have been hindering the normal progress of 3 / 4 hives for the last 5ish years. I have noticed that at the end of the summer I get them ready to over winter and the colonies are calm and gentle. Open them up in spring. The colony with the 3 yr old Queen is grumpy at best. The other 2 colonies who had 1 to 2 yr old queens both are still calm. This has happened for the last 3 seasons that I have noticed, some have remained a nervous colony until I / they have requeened and they calm down. Is this normal, is it likely to be something I'm doing? Do they get grumpier the older the Queen gets?

I went in today and 2 were so gentle, the other one with the older Queen, as soon as I went below the Queen excluder I was covered in bees. Now granted it was very overcast but the air was full, my arms and veil were covered. I had to keep walking away and wait for them to calm a little. I didnt go through that hive today. Last week they were just grumpy, but went through, lots of stores, good laying pattern / brood healthy, Queen seen - looked ok. Plenty of space - on brood and a half with a couple of supers above the qe. Need to point out that this colony last year were so gentle and calm.

Does the smoker fuel that I use make any difference? I currently use wood chippings that I get from a saw mill nearby. I am thinking of burning pine cones as there are hundreds near to the apiary. Could the type of wood im burning be making them angry? I dont often smoke the other two hives as they dont need it, and try not to use too much on the other, but not smoking doesn't work and smoking just seems to P them off.

Should I be requeening for often?


Thanks
What time are you inspecting? I was advised to do it late morning on a sunny day as most of the foragers would be out of the hive, so less bees and foragers seem more likely to be defensive.
 

Jules59 

New Bee
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
62
Reaction score
38
Location
Warwickshire
Hive Type
wbc
Number of Hives
4
Shavings off treated timber must surely be questionable
Interestingly I bought a bag of sawdust & shavings from the local wood yard. It does not burn/smoulder very well. I wonder, does construction timber have fire retardant chemicals added like some cardboard boxes do?
Anyway I've now taken to collecting the straw we use around our allotment strawberries, after they've been picked - it ignites easily and burns well and I add moss (of which I have plenty) from our lawn .
 

Loxley 

New Bee
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
69
Reaction score
69
Location
Powys
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
5
Interestingly I bought a bag of sawdust & shavings from the local wood yard. It does not burn/smoulder very well. I wonder, does construction timber have fire retardant chemicals added like some cardboard boxes do?
Anyway I've now taken to collecting the straw we use around our allotment strawberries, after they've been picked - it ignites easily and burns well and I add moss (of which I have plenty) from our lawn .
Do you know what sort of wood the shavings are from? sawdust often dosen't dry as readily as you might expect as it dosen't allow air to flow through it so if from freshly sawn timber it might still be damp?

Shavings on the other hand usually dry very nicely. As a timber framer I generate a lot of shavings which I save and use for fire lighting some of which end up in my smoker. The timber is always untreated, usually oak but sometimes larch or Douglas fir.

Pressure treated or tannalised timber contains CCA (copper chromium and Arsenic) and should not be burnt at all as it releases the heavy metals as gasses and the smoke is very toxic.
 

Latest posts

Top