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First Stings of the Season 😊


Well, got this event out of the way at least. I got 2 stings today while inspecting our recently installed nucleus. Boy, they are grumpy bees despite smoke! Looking at my gloves later, there must have been 20-30 stingers in them. I was lucky only one got through there. The other sting was through my veil - I was looking down and part of the netting touched my neck - BULLSEYE for the annoyed bee! :blush: Ah well, I will survive, she probably won’t. :cry: I am not worried about the temperament of the bees, as they have a new queen and should calm down in a couple more weeks.

Anyhow, for any California beekeepers, this is a remarkable season. In 2 weeks, a rather weak 5 frame (well really only 4 occupied frames) nucleus has filled an 8 frame deep. Will be adding a second deep this week. Here is a weight graph from our Arnia monitor on our established hive. They are gaining 400g to 1kg per day:

From the inspection today, it is time to add the Flow super. :smile:


wow that ever upwards stepped curve is nice to see- are the little dips around 12 each day from foragers leaving the hive? Does that mean the majority of them don’t leave first thing in the morning but at midday?


Hi Dawn, 20-30 stings in the gloves comes under the heading of unworkable in my books. I think I must be a sook.


That’s a lot of stings. I don’t wear gloves and did a cutout from a fallen tree yesterday. Chainsaws, the lot. Really didn’t count the stings but can only find about 10 all up. I would be pinching that queen.



From my discussion with George Clouston and Wilma at Arnia, using a Skype desktop share image, my understanding is that the dip around midday is from new bees orienting for the first time. I have labeled a close-up of the weight chart, so that you can see what is going on:

Hopefully that makes it a bit clearer! :wink:


David and I agree with you. However this is a new nucleus with a new queen who has only been laying for about 2 weeks. So the grumpy bees will take a few more weeks to die off before her calm progeny take over.

We actually discussed that after we had finished in the hive yesterday. We will replace her if the bees don’t calm down in the next 2 - 3 weeks. We really don’t enjoy working with bees that behave like that. As she has only been in the hive for a couple of weeks so far, it seems a bit premature to dispatch her now. :blush:


Hi Dawn, I agree with that strategy, let’s keep our fingers crossed that she has calm progeny.


that’s quite amazing Dawn- I suppose you can calculate pretty accurately the exact weight of foragers in the hive? And from that the number of bees out foraging. Can you see an appreciable loss of weight of foragers coming back in- to give an indication of bees ‘killed in the line of duty’? I guess it gets tricky with the weight of pollen and nectar coming back too… Wow: I can see if you were a numbers and statistics geek your Arnia would give you endless room for theorising and observations… and collectively all arnia hives would be a great resource for studying bees…

Also the overnight dip in weight is interesting- I guess it’s honey curing- but also bees losing water weight as they de-hydrate? I wonder how much of the weight coming back into the hive every day is simply water as opposed to pollen and nectar ? I guess bees sent out specifically to gather water only?


I don’t think you really can. After all the weight of honey and wax changes all the time.

Not that I am aware of. You can’t factor in evaporation and other losses, such as comb collapse (only happened once to one of our hives, but it leaks out pretty fast).


Quick update. The nucleus is getting worse and we haven’t been able to find the queen. There was a supersedure cell (open) though, so we suspect they didn’t like the Hawaiian queen and replaced her themselves. We are getting stung almost every day, even walking 30 feet away from the hive.

I called the nucleus supplier to ask his thoughts, as we are in a very urban setting, and we don’t want our bees to cause problems for the neighbours. He was somewhat embarrassed and is going to take the hive away and requeen again. No charge. He gets high marks in my book! :blush:


I hope you guys will forgive me for a further quick update. The supplier picked up our hive and was horrified at how aggressive it was. He felt an error had been made in his apiary, and somebody had put a queen into an africanized nucleus by mistake. He regularly “tames” africanized hives in his business - usually when he is called to remove a problem hive belonging to somebody else.

Apparently when he gets an africanized hive, he routinely splits it into nucs to make it easier to handle. His “cooling down” process is interesting. He requeens around a week to 9 days after killing the old queen, destroying queen cells at the same time. He said that around 50% of the time, the nucleus will kill the introduced queen, especially if there is young uncapped brood in the hive. He usually keeps those nuclei for at least one to two brood cycles before selling them, to make sure that the emerging bees are all from the new queen. He said any hive with more than 20% africanized workers will behave like an africanized hive because of the pheromone production.

In our case, somebody grabbed a nuc from the wrong lineup and put a gentle queen in it. It probably still had uncapped brood in it, and lots of capped africanized brood. So they superseded the new queen (which probably smelt funny to them), and we still had an africanized hive.

His plan is to break our hive down again into 2 nuclei, requeen, give them 6-8 weeks to calm down and get rid of the old workers, then bring them back. He was very embarrassed and helpful, and insisted on not charging us for this. I will update when I get them back, but I am impressed with the level of service.


Great story.

So after now experiencing the keeping of Africanized Honey Bees, could/would you do it if that were the only bee available?


I believe I could do it from a management point of view. I am not afraid of being stung, although I don’t enjoy it. Like you, I get many more imaginary stings than real ones! :blush: I am not phobic or afraid of the africanized bees, but there are several reasons that I would not keep them if they were the only ones available.

  1. They really are not much fun. You have to focus the whole time, move quickly but carefully and going through the brood box is a real challenge.
  2. It would seriously upset our neighbors. Our plot is small - 7,000 square feet. So every time we went into the hive, the neighbors would be impacted for days afterwards. The bees would also exclude us from our back yard for days.
  3. David had an anaphylactic-type reaction to bee stings 30 years ago, after receiving about 10 stings at once. He collapsed with light-headedness and low blood pressure and was unable to walk for several minutes. He sometimes gets an Arthus reaction to a sting now - a possible sign of allergy. He has been stung about 6 or 8 times over the last week, and has been fine. However with the number of simultaneous stings he would get from these bees, I would be in a high state of anxiety all the time watching him. No fun in that either.
  4. Those bees hated our gardeners. Although it was somewhat comical watching them run around the garden with the hose spraying at attacking bees, I felt bad for the gardeners, who got several stings each. I think they would resign, and I don’t do gardening as well as they do, so I don’t want to lose their skills. :wink:

I am sure there are other reasons that I haven’t thought of. However, I am a hobby beekeeper, doing this for fun and intellectual stimulation. The africanized bees are not really fun, and I don’t feel a need to prove that I can dominate them. :blush:


OK, so another quick update. The bees from our hive were inspected by the nucleus producer at a rural “isolation” site (= assume bees hostile to humans, so make sure the colony is remote). The Kona queen with her yellow dot was not found. So our suspicion of supersedure was very likely.

They then shook the entire hive onto a box with a queen excluder, forcing all of the bees down except for drones and the queen. Lo and behold! A dark, likely africanized queen was uncovered and dispatched.

The hive was split into 2 nuclei and both requeened. There is a 50% chance that each queen will survive. If neither do, they will wait for queen cells. Six or 7 days after they last saw eggs/uncapped larvae in the hot nuclei, they will destroy any queen cells and try again with a new known, mated queen. Meanwhile they feed the colonies, even if there is a flow. Apparently that helps to distract the bees from being aggressive. I have no personal experience of this type of aggression suppression, just relaying what I have been told. :wink:

They will then recombine the nuclei and wait for around 6 weeks to make sure everything is peaceful. If both queens survive, one will be removed and recycled to another hive (this is a commercial operation, after all!)

So, now we just wait. :smile:


Really fascinating @Dawn_SD - it’s cool to hear how your supplier is dealing with the Africanized bee issue that I imagine could be getting more serious in your area.


If these bees are so aggressive to a calm queen wouldn’t you be better off killing all their queen cells then giving them a frame of young brood from a good hive?



If it was in my hands, I might try that, providing I had a rural location. However, as our house is on 7,000 square feet (700 sq meters), there is a lot of risk to my neighbours while I wait for the new queen to emerge and her offspring take over the hive.

Also, in my area, there are likely quite a number of africanized drones, so it is really better to introduce a queen which has mated in a location well away from here. That way you know she won’t keep producing nasty daughters! Quite an interesting problem. :blush:


OK, so @Cowgirl is absolutely right. This supplier is a total “prince of a guy”. I really couldn’t think of a better description for him.

We went to pick up our now empty hive last weekend. He had taken away a double deep 8-Frame Langstroth. The bottom box was 100% full and “boiling” with bees (africanized, as you can see from above). The upper box had 2 fully drawn frames and the rest all new foundation. I normally “nadir” (put underneath existing) new brood boxes, but these bees were so hot, I didn’t want to disturb them that much, which is why the new box was on top.

So we loaded our empty boxes into our car at his apiary, then he suddenly offered us another nucleus, which he was sure was peaceful. Additionally he said that he would find our frames of drawn comb and deliver them within the next week. Well, how could we refuse? We get a colony back, we have the equipment. Yes, I know there is a risk of contamination, but that comes with a nucleus anyhow. So now the replacement nucleus is happily installed and as peaceful as a bunch of well-fed kittens. The drawn comb should arrive tomorrow and everyone is happy. :blush:


A well-deserved happy ending, Dawn! :rainbow::sweat_smile::tulip::honeybee::two_hearts: