When bees won't leave you alone...

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TylBee 

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Hi,
On a lovely warm day this week I went though a very busy hive to look for the queen. Couldn't find her so I slowly started to go through them again. By the second frame they became very agitated - bees pinging off me and my black Marigolds (can black gloves upset them?) and then the stings started going in (five in one hand) so I picked the stings out my gloves, closed them up and retreated.

They followed me up the garden (20 metres) and kept pinging and stinging, I found two stings later in the side of my veil. I ran my gloves under the tap. My smoker was making enough smoke to close Gatwick. I walked off up the lane, lost the bees, and then they were back the minute I got into the garden - and they stayed angrily bouncing off my veil for half an hour before I ducked into the house, and watched them circling outside wondering where I was.

Is there anything I can do to next time to distract them so they leave me alone? Any old tricks? Any new tricks?
 

madasafish 

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Take an empty brood box with a floor, a CB and 2-3 old combs with foundation.

Do this when bees are flying strongly.
Move the existing hive approx 1 meter to one side to another stand.
Place the empty Brood box with frames on the old hive stand.
Leave 30 mins or so.

The flyers from the original box will leave and return to the replacement box, thus depleting your hive of flying bees.

Using minimal or no smoke search for queen in now less full original hive.

Reverse positions when finished.

Works very well - all the flying nasty bees are nowhere near you when you are looking for the Queen.
 

Curly green finger's 

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Take an empty brood box with a floor, a CB and 2-3 old combs with foundation.

Do this when bees are flying strongly.
Move the existing hive approx 1 meter to one side to another stand.
Place the empty Brood box with frames on the old hive stand.
Leave 30 mins or so.

The flyers from the original box will leave and return to the replacement box, thus depleting your hive of flying bees.

Using minimal or no smoke search for queen in now less full original hive.

Reverse positions when finished.

Works very well - all the flying nasty bees are nowhere near you when you are looking for the Queen.
Just to add to the good advice try a water bottle sprayer instead, the girls will be calmer and not running around m
 

Ian123 

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If you go to all that trouble of finding the queen at least have an option/plan of what you intend to do. Ian
 

drex 

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When I started and did not know better, some of mine were like that, such that the white bit of cloth round the veil was dotted with hundreds of black stings. I did for the queen as soon as I found her. It is something I rigorously select for in my queen rearing today. Get rid of the black gloves and bleed off the flyers as suggested
 

enrico 

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Why were you looking for the queen. If you were looking just for the sake of it then yes, on the second take they would go into defensive or even offensive mode. If you were looking to get rid of her then follow the above advice.
You do not need to find a queen you just need to find eggs.
I had a colony I wanted to dequeen. A couple of days ago I did what you did. On the first look they were a little defensive. By the second look they were angry and I still did not find the queen which was annoying as I found her easily the week before! They don't like two looks through one box!
There are two types of bees, defensive and aggressive. You want to change the queen in an aggressive hive but you may be able to live with a defensive one. Very often it is just one or two guard bees that get into the habit of following you. Dispatch them and you may get lucky but if you wind them up to a pitch then expect problems!
E
 
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TylBee 

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Thank you for all your suggestions.

I was looking for the queen because in this densely packed hive I had found three sealed queen cells. I hadn't been able to inspect the hive regularly due to the cold temp and wind where I live. The plan was to find the queen and move her with some stores and another frame of brood to a nuc. Then I was planning to take down all but one queen cell and let her hatch and hopefully mate. If she failed, the old queen was still in the nuc as back up.

The colony has been a bit grumpy this year. They endured some robbing towards the end of last season and when things appeared to calm down I found a huge number of bees under the mesh floor, being fed from within - following some advice on the forum I brushed them off and they were not happy - burrowing into my cuffs etc. Up until then I have never had any temperament issues with them at all. I only have one other colony to compare them with, and they are very calm, not like the bolshy lot at all.

I couldn't shake them off when they followed me the other day. It was as if they were scouting to see where I was - do they do that or was I just spooked by this unfamiliar behaviour I wonder? Black gloves going in the bin!
 

TylBee 

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Just seen your posts Enrico and Boston Bees - thank you! Two runs through the frames might have just tipped them over. Presumably that's enough for them to still be having a go at me, 20 yds away, half an hour later... We live and learn - and get stung!
 

enrico 

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Thank you for all your suggestions.

I was looking for the queen because in this densely packed hive I had found three sealed queen cells. I hadn't been able to inspect the hive regularly due to the cold temp and wind where I live. The plan was to find the queen and move her with some stores and another frame of brood to a nuc. Then I was planning to take down all but one queen cell and let her hatch and hopefully mate. If she failed, the old queen was still in the nuc as back up.

The colony has been a bit grumpy this year. They endured some robbing towards the end of last season and when things appeared to calm down I found a huge number of bees under the mesh floor, being fed from within - following some advice on the forum I brushed them off and they were not happy - burrowing into my cuffs etc. Up until then I have never had any temperament issues with them at all. I only have one other colony to compare them with, and they are very calm, not like the bolshy lot at all.

I couldn't shake them off when they followed me the other day. It was as if they were scouting to see where I was - do they do that or was I just spooked by this unfamiliar behaviour I wonder? Black gloves going in the bin!
They do that! You wound them up and they want revenge! When I first started keeping bees my whole family could happily go in the garden but as soon as I stepped out on a day I had inspected them I would be zapped! A shower helps!
You need to handle them carefully and calmly. They hate being brushed. Go into blogs and look for Enrico under the authors tab. There are some tips in there for handling etc.
 

TylBee 

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Thanks Enrico. That's just what's happened. I even got zapped the next day!
 

pargyle 

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I think you just pushed them past their tolerance level ... if they were able to be handled the first time you went through them then that would be my best bet. Not to the extent you had but I pushed one of my colonies last week ... see here.

Post # 30,339 What did you do in the Apiary today?

MY bees are usually very well behaved but I reckon I just messed about with them too much ...

You will probably find they are fine next time. But ... all the above advice is good ... if you don't need the queen for any reason why one earth put them through so much. Bees can easily be stressed - inspections should concentrate on what you NEED to know;

1. BIAS (They have a laying queen).
2. No queen cells (they are not going to swarm this week).
3. Have they enough stores for the next week or two.
4. How many frames of brood (Do they need a super).

End of ... five minutes tops ...

You can also do and A/S without finding the queen ...

Artificial Swarm without finding the queen:
When queen cells are found, move the parent hive. Place one comb of brood (no queen cells) in a new brood box on the original site – add drawn combs or foundation. Brush all the bees from the old brood box into the new one. Put the queen excluder on then the supers & the bees they contain – then the cleared brood box and combs (replacing the missing comb with drawn comb or foundation), crown board and roof. Next morning, remove the upper brood box and place on a new floor and cover with a crown board and roof. Overnight, the bees will have re-arranged themselves. The queen will be below the excluder in the new brood box. The nurse bees will have climbed up through the supers to tend the brood. When you separate them, you will have completed the first stage of the artificial swarm, without finding the queen. Eventually, if increase is not required, the old queen can be killed and the new queen united to the original colony (using newspaper method).

Copyright - Brian Dennis via Dave Cushman website.


Not perfect but it will do the job and better that riling them up searching for the queen for hours on end ...
 
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drdrday 

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Don't forget that one sting will lead to many if you don't do anything to cover the smell.
Giving the sting site a blast with your smoker, or air freshener (I keep a can in my bee bag for unites), or a lemon scented wipe (like you can pick up free in some restaurants/takeaways), dab of clove oil or olbas oil can all help mask the smell and reduce the number of follow up stings.
Of course if they sting you without any provocation, they're just nasty bees and this doesn't help much, but it's worth remembering anyway. Sounds like a second go through was definitely the provocation they needed though - probably just too much disturbance and too much smoke.
 

enrico 

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Try to put something between your hive and your garden or house. I have two clumps of bamboo. I walk between them and any following bees get brushed off. They are usually too stupid to go over the top. If they can see you they will have you! A screen or even a trellis ( they won't go through the holes) between the hives and your garden will help. Get them above head height and things should improve! To be fair though your bees are probably fine. Just let them calm down and never go through a brood box face again if you can help it! 😁
 

enrico 

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Finally. I accept you found the queen cells and were trying to stop a swarm but if your bees swarm it is not the end of the world! You may get the swarm or you may not but reduce the queen cells to one or two and at least you will still have bees. Bees swarm because that is how they reproduce. That is in their DNA. You will not stop them all you can do is try and control it and sometimes they will do it whatever you do. All you can do is your best! 👍
 

Boston Bees 

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Just seen your posts Enrico and Boston Bees - thank you! Two runs through the frames might have just tipped them over. Presumably that's enough for them to still be having a go at me, 20 yds away, half an hour later... We live and learn - and get stung!
Happens to us all.

What might help is to have a plan B for when you have capped queen cells (so need to do something) but the queen isn't immediately obvious. At that point, rather than going back through the hive again and again (sometimes she just becomes invisible!) you could abandon the nuc idea and switch to this method, which doesn't require you to know where the queen is:

Swarm control and elusive queens - The Apiarist

So, in summary - if charged queen cells found, look for the queen, and if you find her, go down the nucleus method as you intended, but if not, switch to the method described at the link, which separates the queen cells from the flying bees, thus removing (probably!) the immediate danger.

Hope this makes sense
 

TylBee 

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Thank you all for your time and your advice. I'll read up on all the links this evening. I also have inspection cloths which might help deter some opportunist activity, but generally it seems the second pass was the match that lit the fuse. And if they're still buzzing round my head half an hour after I've closed them back up and I can't get into my house I'll try the Olbas oil technique or just have to sit it out I guess...
 

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