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Hive from Hell

 
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sherry6
Foraging Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2011
Posts: 186
Location: USA, Idaho, Twin Falls

PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 9:33 pm    Post subject: Hive from Hell Reply with quote

Here's an interesting situation. I went into my hive yesterday to fix a broken comb from last fall and to check on the state of the hive. There were lots of bees flying and the 36" TBH was busting at the seams. That was another reason I went in. To see if there were swarm cells. It needs to be split. Anyway, after fixing the comb and looking for worker brood (saw lots of drone brood also), closed up the hive and started packing up. I hear my dog who has been chased onto the deck and wants in the house desperately. I let him in and several bees follow. I go back outside and they are attacking me. I race back into the house and there are guard bees flying at the window screens trying to get in to get me. This lasted a good 30-45 min. (The hive is in the corner of my in-town backyard, roughly 30-40 feet away.) Finally get everything packed and back in the garage, all while wearing my bee jacket and gloves.

So I go outside on my back deck today to enjoy lunch in the sunshine when I get attacked again! No bee jacket on. This time one got me in the thumb, although she was aiming for my head. I have the hive from hell! They were wonderful last year and I have been able to sit near the entrance prior to entering the hive yesterday. The only constant is my cologne, which I've worn in prior years so they must've remembered my cologne from yesterday and zeroed in on it. Anyway, I'm requeening as this is not fun. I feel like a prisoner in my home. Unfortunately, queen won't be here until the 26th. Hopefully my neighbors, who have young children, won't have any problems in the meantime. I will also use a different cologne tomorrow and see if it makes a difference.

Anyone else experience something like this? I'd love to hear your story and remedy. Thanks! Confused
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It could be that you simply worked them too long. If you open up the hive for too long, say more than five minutes, they get angry about you. I try to be in and out in less than 2 minutes maximum per hive.

But the angryness should not last more than a day. If it extends over some days your bees have the genetics to be overly defensive. You being in Texas might have some africanized genetics in those bees. Requeening can be difficult with hot bees. You might want to get help from someone experienced in requeening difficult hives.
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...and don't wear anything from a bottle around bees - except maybe a little mint or citronella.

You might want to get your dog checked, as dogs and horses are both highly sensitive to bee stings.
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Garret
Golden Bee


Joined: 04 Apr 2009
Posts: 1681
Location: Canada, BC, Delta

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds pretty defensive. Did you use your smoker? I've had hives that I considered highly defensive where they boil out at me when opening them up. With a little pre smoking they mostly become easy to work. Once the first few stings take place it can get a whole lot worse with more bees joining in defending there home.

The other possible issue could be that something like a skunk/raccoon is pestering them in the early morning and evening. Have a close look to see if there is any evidence of this and take action to protect the bees from this.

Once you get them re-queen it will still take some time for an aggressive hive to cool down. A good portion of the original workers will need to live the lives out for that to happen. Could take a month or more.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Sherry.

So sorry to hear you are having such a problem. I have dealt with bees like this that suddenly turned on me half way through an inspection and I've dealt with a colony that boiled out the moment you lifted the lid and attacked. Thankfully neither of them were mine and I was only helping out, but still extremely unpleasant.
The other advice you were given above is good and I would only add that splitting them into several hives/bait boxes will help you locate the queen more easily than going through every frame trying to find her, when the bees are aggressive like that and once split, obviously each box will be less strong. It would perhaps be helpful to find somewhere less residential that you could move them to after you divide them. You then need to identify the box that continues to produce brood and the queen will be in there. The others will start to rear emergency queens of course, so you have limited time once you split them, but just the act of splitting them can reduce their defensiveness.

The other option as a last resort and I know it's a controversial one, is destruction.
Another member of this forum had a hive that turned nasty and had to resort to this measure. There was extensive discussion about how to do it on that thread and I will try to find it for you and post a link.
Hopefully this is it http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15585
Good luck

Barbara
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the hive is really big I would try splitting it. Often this will work and they quieten down as they are too busy building and growing. It's a bit like playing rugby, a schoolboy team is not too bad but some grow up to be the All Blacks. Now, they are a different matter......

Cheers
Rob.
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sherry6
Foraging Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2011
Posts: 186
Location: USA, Idaho, Twin Falls

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for all your comments. Bernard, I am in Idaho and we don't have Africanized bees (too cold for them) but they are sure acting like them. I was probably in longer than 5 min. but not more than 20 min. It was a quick fix of wonky comb and a check for worker brood.

I went out to the backyard this afternoon and I was not bothered. So I went back out this evening and two girls were immediately in my face, and this is two days out from opening the hive. Only used Lavender EO as my scent for the day knowing they like lavender. Guess I'll try a little mint or lemongrass E.O. tomorrow.

Phil, I will check with the vet on dog sensitivity as he is off his food right now. Thank you for the reminder.

Garret, I don't own a smoker. I've always just been very quiet with the girls when working them and haven't had any problems before this incident. Also, no skunks or raccoons in my neck of the woods. Don't know of anything other than overcrowding that is bothering them. And no stings when I was in the hive that I'm aware of. (maybe my suit got some.) Received the one sting the following day while no where near the hive. They came after me. I would've gotten more stings today if I hadn't gotten my bee jacket on.

Barbara, unfortunately I don't have a less residential area to put them right now but I am going to look for one. It's hard because I'm in an agricultural area and there is a lot of spraying of chemicals that goes on. I'm thinking because they are so overcrowded and built up so quickly this Spring that that might be the cause of their aggressiveness. As soon as my new queen arrives I will split the hive at least in two, maybe three splits. My problems are not enough hives and no place to locate them. May have to sell them off. Hate to destroy them as they overwintered really well and were working gangbusters last year, their first year. Didn't expect any honey but ended up with quite a bit. These are Carniolins if that makes a difference.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Get a smoker. Does make live more peaceful for all of you, bees, you, the dog.

You are working a superorganism, so opening up the hive means you open up a body. You work inside that body like in a surgery. Would you like to be treated like that without some sort of anesthetization?

I understand now the reaction of the bees and sure it will take a month or two until they settle down. 20 Minutes and without smoke. That was not so good.

Carnolians are very peaceful bees, other bees wouldn't have wait so long before attacking.
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1487
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Only used Lavender EO as my scent for the day knowing they like lavender.


Some here reckon that lavender makes the bees more likely to sting if you use the e.o. I have seen this in two or three different threads.

However I do think that splitting them will give you some time to think about finding another location if they do not start behaving themselves.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try not using any cologne or essential oil.

Split them hard and make sure each hive has some eggs so they can raise a queen.

Cheers
rob.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it's just one or two guard bees having a go, that's not what I would call a bad hive. If they were bad, they would have been pouring out at you and stinging gloves and suit whilst you were in the hive.

At swarming time I sometimes get the odd one or two like this that come and "see me off" when I'm hanging the washing out etc and sometimes wait outside the back door for 20 mins or more for me to come back out. It usually settles down in a week but they can be persistent little devils during that time and on occasion I've had to despatch them. Interestingly they haven't been replaced when I've done that and I just put it down to pheremones (and juvenile delinquency) making them a bit enthusiastic at guard duty. Once the brood nest starts to shrink, the nurse bees have less to do and I think perhaps some get promoted to guard duty before they are ready.

If your hive is already full, it could well be that the brood nest is restricted and that is causing a similar situation even if they are not actually ready to swarm yet. (Did you see any drones or QCs?) If this is the case splitting them should help with no need to requeen. Once mine swarm they are back to being lovely natured again.

I agree with Bernhard that smoke is not a bad thing but should be used judiciously. A gentle waft here and there. If you have a top bar hive and kept the majority of bars tight together then having it open for that length of time shouldn't have been too much of a problem in my opinion.

Since you are not in an Africanised area, my thoughts are that this is a passing phase and all will be well again soon. If there were 20 or 30 chasing after you, that would be another matter. The odd one being a nuisance (and I know they can be pretty intimidating), doesn't make a bad colony in my view.

Hope it settles down soon.

Regards

Barbara
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pwl256
New Bee


Joined: 17 Jun 2013
Posts: 4
Location: UK, Dorset

PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:39 pm    Post subject: Hive from Hell Reply with quote

I must admit that now I dont use a smoker but a water spray.

The fine mist makes the bees think its raining and they just leave me alone(almost)

Previously I used a smoker all the time, but in practice the water spray seems easier on all of us
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