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Dealing with a really cranky, unworkable hive of bees


This is my step-by-step procedure of dealing with a really cranky hive, making 3 new queens in the process. First of all let me say that I use 9 frames in 10 frame boxes, all deeps. I use one box for brood & one for honey separated by a queen excluder…Step1. Take a new box & bottom board to the site, this box contained 4 frames of brood in the middle flanked by nice fully drawn frames or stickies. Step 2. Use plenty of smoke, remove the honey super, place it down somewhere, gently. Step 3. Remove the brood box, put it somewhere else, replace it with the new box, using plenty of smoke, remove the queen excluder & put onto the new box. Step 4. Put the honey super back. Find a few jobs to do for an hr. or so, allowing field bees to leave the old brood box to return to the new box. In my case I took the old brood box to a new location away from people… The next day, Step 5. With 2 new brood boxes & 8 frames of brood from friendly hives & a couple of stickies on standby. Step 6. With plenty of smoke, remove the lid, place the 2 stickies face down over the bees. After a few minutes, place a sticky, with the bees in each new box. Importantly, checking for the queen. Step 7. repeat the process of step 6 using 2 frames of brood each time, constantly checking for the queen. Naturally when you find the queen, squash her. Step 8. Remove the frames from the cranky hive, shaking the residue bees into the new boxes, trying to keep the numbers even. Step 9, unite the frames of brood from the cranky hive with other hives, above queen excluders. Step 10, put the lids on the new boxes & the job’s done. In this case with NO stings!!!


A somewhat similar method is useful when you come across a savage hive while you are requeening and you haven’t got any extra gear. A few stings are involved but a lot less than if you try looking for the queen. Pick up the brood box and carry it about 10 metres or so away, not too far from another hive if possible. Pull out the frames and shake the bees on to the ground. Knock the remaining bees out of the box and put it all together again where it came from. Insert the cage with the new queen. After a while you can check the remnants of the bees on the ground if you want to and kill the old queen, after which the remaining young bees will probably enter a nearby hive. Hopefully conditions are good if you are requeening.


I haven’t been a big fan of re-queening hives for a long time now. I think it’s better to acquire an extra box & frames which will never go astray anyway. When you take the old brood box 10 meters away or there abouts, you can wait a day so that most of the field bees go back to the old site, then take the frames out one by one, looking for the queen. Rest each frame up against something until you find the queen to squash her. If there are still cranky bees, just walk away till the bees leave you. They will go back to the old site. This can be done without any stings.


The scenario I had in mind was an away from home apiary in which you were going through each hive to do whatever you had to do and deal with whatever you come across with whatever equipment you have with you at the time. Many beekeepers requeen regularly and in my case I go through an apiary in order and I make up a nuc from any hive which has a queen worth keeping. These can go into any hive where the queen introduction failed; or for that matter, can be inserted into any failing hive.


Hi Mal, no worries, sounds like a good plan.


This is our video of how we deal with such an angry hive of bees. This is a different hive to the one I mentioned on Sep 18. We had a couple of surprise onlookers. They weren’t too close. A third onlooker came very close, very brave & unprotected. I had one blooper.