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First time Attacked!

New beekeeper here in Bathurst NSW, Australia. I’ve been enjoying watching the bees and seeing how they work. I’ve done a few inspections and they seemed placid and let me go about my inspection.
Last night went out and was trying to get a look in before sundown, but was painfully attacked by about 5 bees. Stings on my arms, neck, and hands! They went nuts on me!
I am puzzled as to what i did differently. A few things i did think of -

  • There was a bit of wind, not much but it wasn’t still.

  • I was rushing, so maybe they sensed that? I took out one frame on the end and after that, WHAM they went for me

  • Did i not give enough time for smoke to work !? How long should i give it?

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Hey Paul,

My guess is that it was the time of day you did it at. Most of the bees would have been home by then. Could be the smoke as well or a number of other things. I don’t wait that long for the smoke to work (maybe 10 seconds) but I give them a good amount as well, 3 or puffs under the lid after doing a couple in the entrance first.
Try again in a few weeks but more towards the middle of the day.

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It only takes one experience like that to make us more wary in the future.

At first I thought you got attacked while looking at the bees without opening the hive up. Then I realized that you must have done an inspection without a bee suit on. I always put a bee suit on during an inspection. Sometimes at home I only wear thongs. Then I’m constantly watching my feet. Then I think I’m better off going to the trouble of putting my boots on, especially if I have to shake bees off frames.

I was fully suited up!

Fully suited up? how did they get you? was it through the suit, or did they find a gap?

I get the odd one through the suit, even through my gloves. That’s never as bad as directly on the skin. In that case scratch the sting out as soon as possible. You get faster at doing that. It’s worse if you don’t know you’ve been stung until the pain hits. By that time, a lot of venom has been injected.


Probably the time of day. Many or the foragers will be home and they can be aggressive if not handled carefully. Also, if you were rushing that will set them off as you will be jerky and be giving them bumps which upset them.

I would give them another go in late morning on a good day and see how you go.



I got nailed by my ladies on Saturday in the late afternoon. Two very unfriendly girls!!!
I was going to show a couple of friends the hive and have a look in the back door but we had to beat a hasty retreat.

However, it was overcast and windy and I may have had a beer which I have read on the Forum does not bode well while working with bees.

Lesson learned. I’ll suit up in future and pick my time and conditions a bit better.

I won’t disturb my bees for an hour before the sun goes over the horizon. They seem to be become a bit more defensive after then. Never use a white light(torch) to even take a look for the number of bees bearding, the bees will fly to the light source back side first. They can’t however even see a red light.
Bees will pick up you rushing, do your bee keeping in slow motion and that help keep them calm.
I give 3 puffs at the entrance, 30 seconds later another 3 under the lid and sit it back down for a minute. Then I will remove the lid and do whatever I wanted to do. Gentle puffs produce a cooler smoke.
Thinking you have had a lean harvest from the Cape weed and Patterson’s curse this year being so dry?


Wait what? Not bode well?
I always find the bees friendlier after a couple of beers!
Drunk bees are funny.


Often I am too impatient- but ideally you smoke a hive a good five minutes before you go in. It takes a few minutes for the bees to really guzzle up much honey- apparently once they are full of honey they cannot sting as easily- and are less inclined to do so. It is definitely worth waiting.

Also: if you were suited up and still got stung- try wearing something thick under your suit- that way stingers can’t reach through to the skin. I do that on nasty hives sometimes as my suit does not always stop stings going right through. It’s hot- but that’s better than being scared and/or stung.

also it pays to be absolutely ready for anything: hives that generally gentle can suddenly change at certain times. Once I opened a hive and immediately about 100 bees flew straight up and started trying to attack my face. If I wasn’t suited up I would have been annihilated! In that instance- the bees were so angry- I just closed the hive up and got the hell out of there. I have no idea what got them so instantly riled- perhaps I disturbed an important and acrimonious meeting? who knows?

I am always a bit baffled by these experienced beekeepers who wear no protective gear- I understand that many times hives are completely relaxed- but what about when things go sour? One sting in the face is bad enough- I can’t even imagine what dozens would be like.