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How do I deal with aggro colony?


Have just collected large old wooden mail box with well established strong colony inside, they are very aggressive with lots of bees. I’m planning to leave them to reset their gps then do a cutout. Would it be a good idea to split the colony to quiten at least one half? I doubt I will be able to find the queen.


Where are you? Did you use smoke when you collected them?
Boulder, CO, USA


After the bees have adjusted their GPS, and it is time to do the cutout (during good weather). Take the old mail box several meters away and replace it with a nuc box with at least one frame of brood whilst doing the cutout. The aggressive bees will give up on you and go back to the old site and populate the nuc. Once most of the field bees have gone back to the old site, it will be much easier to do the cutout with mainly nurse bees left.

Yes I would do a split if the population if big enough, depending on what time of the season you are in.

The nuc you create can be one split and the cutout the second.

Don’t try to save every bit of the hive into empty frames, only the good worker comb. Some of that can go into the nuc.

Alternatively you could forget about the nuc box & let the bees fly around at the old site until you place the cutout box in place.


Hi Jeff,

In the frame of brood you suggest for the nuc, do you think it would be a good idea to ensure there are really young larvae or eggs? This way the aggressive bees from the mail box colony might raise their own queen with the genetics of wherever the brood came from.

I think Gill is from WA. Esperance? Not too many commercial beekeepers there I believe, so sourcing queens could be a problem. I’ve been to Esperance once a few years back and its a lovely but isolated place. The Southern Ocean can turn into a washing machine very quickly and it’s the closest I’ve ever been to seasick. My Julie thought it was very funny.


Yes…I’m in Esperance, Western Australia, middle of summer, heaps of flowering Yate trees which the bees love. By the way the Tin can bees you guys advised me on how to cutout have done really well, very quiet and doubled their population in 4 weeks.
These mailbox bees were causing a lot of problems in town where they were, driveway was no go zone!
Yes I did use smoke to pick up the mailbox in the dark and put it in a chaff bag, they were quieter, later tried to take bag off in the dark without smoke and they followed me right back to the house angry all the way! Will try and finish job with smoke in a few days.


G’day Bob, yes I guess that would be an option if one was available. Otherwise the first bit of comb with young larvae taken out of the mailbox would do.

I used this strategy on 3 angry hives a few months ago in order to find & dispatch the queens. It wasn’t until I went back to the original sites, that I got severely hammered (no stings, luckily).

With the brood boxes well away from the original sites, I was easily able to remove the frames & find the queens. In those cases I put new brood boxes in place with frames of brood from quiet hives. I united the frames of brood from the cranky hives with other hives, making sure that no hive could make a new queen from them. This was after I shook all the bees back to the original hives. All 3 hives were successful in making new queens. Now I don’t have bees ready to attack me as soon as I get out of my truck.


Aggro colony swarmed while I was waiting for new boxes to arrive to put them in. Did not catch swarm but thought it might be a blessing to get rid of that queen! Remainder of bees in box seem quiet enough and found what I think were two young queens when I put brood in frames in hive. Got about 10 kilo of honeycomb!
Thanks for all your help.