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Do I have a Hot hive?


#1

During our last hive inspection on one of our hives here in Central Texas the bees seemed pretty aggressive, flying up and hitting the hood netting with lots of bees airborne. I did mess with the hive a good bit and didn’t smoke them thinking it was in the high 60’s outside and they’d be chilling out. Lesson 1, use smoke.

I went down to within 20 feet of the hive about 30minutes after the inspection without gear, got buzzed quickly and stung once.

Fast forward to today, a week later. My wife was about 10feet from the hives no gear as she was just walking around in the lower yard. She said she felt something land on her hand and flicked it away out of reaction. The bee then hit her on top of the head and stung her. She came into the house to tell me about it. I then went down and was standing about 40feet away when I got buzzed by a bee that then hit the top of my head several times. No sting, I walked away quickly. I then watched a bee land on the fence that separates front and back yards. It had landed right where I had been standing. When I walked within 4feet of it again it again tried to get me on the top of my head. This time I ran quickly away.

So I am trying to figure out if we have a “hot”hive now or if this all started from my wife flicking her hand pissing the bee off and then the pheromones still keeping them excited for when I came out there.

Opinions?


#2

Hi Jerry, you may not have a “hot hive”. Bees probably don’t react well to flicking. I think you should wait till your next inspection before making that call. Pick a nice day, use plenty of smoke, work from the back of the hive & avoid any harsh quick movements or bumping. See how how they react then.


#3

I would say hot hive, and in your neck of the woods, I would want to exclude africanized honey bees (AHB). Bees can be aggressive if they are defending the hive during a nectar dearth, so AHB is not the only reason. However, in the southern/southwestern US, we have around 60% AHBs in swarms and drones. So if you don’t have a “known queen” in your colony (from genetically gentle stock, preferably Hawaii for example), you may have partial AHB offspring, and they will only get worse as the hive gets stronger.

I would say try to find the queen if you had a marked queen before. If she is gone, order a new queen for next season, and requeen as early as you can (probably February). Meanwhile, don’t disturb the hive any more than you have to.

I also agree with @JeffH’s comments above. But you if inspect with smoke and gentleness, and they remain difficult, consider requeening. :wink:

Nasty bees are tough to handle, but a good learning experience. :blush:


#4

I, also, live in Central Texas near Temple and Waco. A few months ago, I had to destroy a hive that had gotten very mean. I’ve come to believe that when the hive was a new nuc, an africanized swarm moved in and replaced my marked queen.

For months they had gotten more and more testy, but then the last straw. After mowing too close, they chased my wife over 400 feet where she had to jump into our swimming pool and then they circled the area for the next two hours trying to sting anything they could find.

A couple of weeks later, I opened the hive with plenty of smoke and they began pouring out to sting. There was absolutely no way in these running, crazy bees to find the queen and re-queen the hive. So, I destroyed it by spraying it with hot soapy water.

If I get another “hot” hive, I’ve decided to try another strategy to save it. My plan is to suit up well, and use my big, very powerful shop vac to vacuum in all the bees including the queen - making very sure there is no queen left. There will be plenty of field bees that won’t be included in this that will eventually return and settle in the hive. The next day, I’ll introduce a new, marked, high quality queen. They should be very ready by then to receive her. I’ll stay clear for a few months as the old bees hatch, die off, and are replaced, but it should result in the hive saved, now, with great bees.


#5

Any hive can have a bad day. If I can see a reason (bad weather, windy, etc.) then I don’t count that. If it’s a nice day and I see no reason for the behavior, I put a red push pin in the hive. If the next time they are nice I remove the pin. If I get to 3 pins I requeen.


#6

They superseded the marked queen in August. Big Island Queens has queens available right now. We are still hitting mid seventies here in Texas. Would a re-queen right now be out of the question?

Michael, it was very windy yesterday, but mid 70’s no clouds. I am going to go down and check it today with my jacket and Hood on just to see.


#7

It should be fine with your climate. Some people prefer to requeen in Fall. :wink:


#8

We get bees that turn mean in Australia. Sometimes we’d be forgiven for thinking that they are “Africanized”.

I have seen angry bees in my 30 years as a beekeeper, however nothing as bad as what you or your wife experienced. I’ll stop thinking that our angry bees are Africanized.

Apparently some beekeepers actually work Africanized bees. I think that is something that I wouldn’t take on.


#9

I just went down to the two hives. It’s right at 70* f at the hives. I was wearing my jacket with hood and gloves. I started 20feet out, made noise, nothing. I moved to 10 feet, made noise again, jerky movements, again nothing. So I stepped right up to each entrance. Now the bees had to veer around me to land or takeoff. I did this at both hives. Again, not a single buzz job or any interest even from Guard bees.

I also removed the bottom screen pan from each hive to inspect it. Making noise there too. Again nothing. So I’m thinking yesterday was a one off situation. I will still keep a close eye on them as i don’t want to be surprised mowing the yard a hundred feet away.


#10

Sounds like you can hold off on requeening. :blush:


#11

Hi Lynn, did your bees behave anything like this bloke’s bees?


I can see lots of room for improvement with his technique.


#12

Yep. That’s the way they act. They pour out and want to sting anything they can find.

He has waaaaaay more patience than I do with them. When they come after you like that, I just want them GONE as soon as possible. I definitely don’t want to continue fooling with them like he is. If I get another of those colonies, they’re all going into the vac along with a spray or two of insecticide. Now, with a relatively quiet, empty hive of brood frames, I’ll be able to introduce a new caged queen with her nurse bees. The few returning field bees should be able to keep things going until more nurse bees shortly hatch. It won’t be long until all the mean bees have been replaced by new and much better genetics.

At least, that’s my plan for now. Hope to never have to use it.


#13

That is a reasonable plan as long as the beetles don’t get to lay eggs in the brood in the mean time, with the worker population so low. In this video, Blake mentioned about his weak colony being taken over by wax moth, when in fact it was SHB larvae, possibly mixed with some moth larvae. Then he put the frames out in the field for the bees to clean up. All he did was allow all of the beetle larvae to complete the next phase of their life cycle, increasing beetle numbers in his area.

A good plan for a situation such as this is to have another brood box ready with brood frames from a placid hive with a new queen in place ready. Remove the honey super, then take the brood box several meters away. Put the new brood box in the original position, then replace the honey super. It seems that you can at least do that before they get super angry. It appears that once you start removing frames, all hell breaks loose.

You can let the field bees & most of the mature bees return to the old site, leaving only nurse bees. By then, it might be possible to work on the brood box.

PS, at the end of his video he mentioned that it had been raining on & off that day. He didn’t pick the best weather to do that sort of job in.


#14

I’ve never heard of beekeepers replacing “hot” queens here in South Africa. I find the contrast rather amusing: Bees here are just hotter than European bees. Period. Ons doesn’t dare work on your hives without full gear and gloves. If one gets stung for working without gear, one should’ve known better. If passers-by get stung by your bees, you move your hive. Partly due to beekeepers here not meddling so much with the genetics of bad-tempered bees, our bees are way more healthy.

The sample size of this anecdote is admittedly small, and therefore I would like to do more research on how local beekeepers deal with hot bees, especially in the section of South Africa where the African bee (Apis mellifera scutellata) is native.


#15

As far as protecting against the SHB, I came across this Youtube video on how to block them from getting into your hive:

I watched the rest of Jeff Williard’s videos and am using his system to protect all my hives.

Even if they are already in the hive, when the larvae leave the hive to pupate in the ground, the new beetles can’t reenter. It stops the life cycle and the subsequent build up. Check it out.


#16

Thank you Lynn, yes I watched his video. I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing, nothing.

As long as we keep our colonies strong & don’t allow the beetles an opportunity to lay eggs in either brood, dead bees or pollen, we’ll be right.


#17

Actually, I don’t have any beetles in my hives which are strong. However, listening to the stories of how the beetles are bothering the fellow beekeepers in my local club whose hives are not that far away, has me taking precautions. I know it’s just a matter of time before some these strong flying beetles find me. I’m hoping that by putting in this easy block and never letting them get in and get a foothold, my hives continue to stay clean of them.

After destroying and removing the mean hive, there was a cluster of field bees somewhat larger than a softball than settled on the hive stand. As mean and protective as they are, I think there would be plenty enough to guard a brood box with a small opening successfully. I certainly wouldn’t want to bother them and I pity a poor moth that might try to walk into their midst! :>


#18

I would inspect that brood fairly quickly. Enough bees larger than the size of a softball will probably only cover 2 frames. It will be a real challenge for them to look after all of that brood, let alone guard the entrance.

I learned the hard way myself. After learning my lesson, I always make sure that each brood frame is WELL covered in worker bees while doing splits or introducing brood frames into weak colonies etc.

If beetles are in your area, you can rest assured that at least one pair will find poorly protected brood.