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Meanest bees I've dealt with


Hello everyone. My Italian bees did not make it through the winter. This spring was crape weather so I bought a new nuke of bees which happened to be Russian. They are doing well, they quickly filled out the first box. I added the second empty box of frames. They are the meanest bunch of bees I’ve seen. They start attacking me the second I arrive at the hive. When I added the second box on it was quick but I bet I was stung 20 to 40 times through my suit. This is so different than last years bees. I could sit at the entrance forever watching them come and go. Is this normal?


I would be changing that queen.



I agree with @Rmcpb. Those bees sound at least partially Africanized, which is a possibility in your area. I would get a mentor, or a club member, and ask for their help in getting a new queen into your hive. I like the queens from www.ohbees.com, but in your climate, I would still go for Italian, not Russian. :wink:

Your Italians probably didn’t make it through winter because of Varroa infestation, rather than the strain of bees. :blush:


Well, in the bees defense, I did not use smoke. What I did was this. I installed the nuk. Then when they drew out comb on all of the new frames, I added the honey super which they were up in propolizing everything. The bees started hanging on the front bearding heavily so I thought they are out of room and I did not want them to swarm. So I just added them a second empty box of frames and now they are not bearding so much and I put the honey super back on top. And to be clear they do not swarm me. It’s just one or two guard bees that let me know that they do not want me there.

When I bought them, the guy picked up the queen with his bear hand and marked her for me. They seemed very calm, there were no problems.


Also, I can mow with the riding mower right next to them and that does not seem to bother them. I think they just do not like me messing with their home.


i can only tell you that in Australia probably all the commercial bee keepers use the Italian strain of bee, the reason being they are calm and if the hive is hot(agro) then there is usually a reason to be found, Italians are also very productive at foraging. There weak point is that some keepers say that they need more honey for dearths and winter, but as better foragers does that really matter. For hobbyists most have Italians as well. Unless I am going down into the brood I don’t have a problem with my hives, I am ignored without the use of smoke. When I check on the brood I put on a veil and use a minimum of smoke just to calm them down.


Yes, it is partially my fault for not using smoke. And to clarify, I really only had about 10 to 12 stingers sticking out of my clothing. I didn’t actually get a sting to the skin.


A sting is still a sting, the intent was there. I only use smoke if I am going down to the brood. I work slowly lifting frames, do it smoothly and slowly.


Hi Chris, use your smoker, get good at lighting it & keeping it going. Really, when you think about it, a smoker is a beekeepers best friend.

Get to know what weather to open a hive in helps also. Don’t do it if rain or storms are around.


Also, it was extremely hot about 95 degrees and high humidity. Now that I see his all typed out, they might be more aggressive than im used to but I think I’ve just made a couple of dumb mistakes.


I would probably counter that argument and say that a number of commercial guys have moved over to a russian variety in Australia. It is true that Italians are the dominant variety here. I switched all my hives to russians after a bad run of italians which I sourced from various breeders and am very happy with the dark caucasians, they have longer tongues, winter well and are very calm. And if you like wax that is the colour of a navel orange then this is the bee for you … :joy: my neighbour across the river has been complaining that all his pretty yellow bees keep turning black, I haven’t yet mustered up the courage to tell him why. :stuck_out_tongue:


I also have reason to counter that argument. There is a drift towards Carniolans up here by large commercial beeks.
Also longer proboscis and less consumption in winter, but also forage well in coastal winters. Things change.
And yes, much calmer than Italians.


My apologies, to @Rodderick and @Webclan I should have said ‘probably most’ instead of ‘probably all’.
My Italians are always placid and ignore me with little interest, It is hard for me to imagine them any other way except in a dearth of course.
Have you got the wattle blooming down you neck of the woods? It started here a couple of weeks ago but has come on strong this past week.


My bees don’t seem friendly either. Always one trying to get at me, from every inch of my suit, even if i am just standing nearby admiring them. When we extract honey and are at the back of the hive, there is always one, trying to sting us, the entire time. The constant buzzing and attempts to get to my face, after an hour or so, gets very old. But, on a positive note, our hives are doing very well this year, 2 harvest so far and they are refilling the frames as soon as we drain them. Guess they just don’t like company :slight_smile:


Yes, the wattle is starting here in the mountains too, so many yellow buds. They aren’t quite ready for the bees yet. Maybe today.
I find my Italians get more defensive as the colony grows. As nucs they were all like tiny cute pussycats.


Yep, beehives are a bit like rugby teams. When they are schoolboy teams they are pretty quiet but they can grow into the All Blacks and they are not fun!



This is interesting. Here in SA I think the majority of bees people keep are a darker variety. I don’t know what they are called- or if they even have a name. There may be some degree of Ligurian about from the influence of KI. But catching swarms I found that out of 15 swarms I caught only one was a lighter half-Italian yellow type bee. The rest are all the darker type.

It seems that the predominant feral bee type in Australia is a darker bee?

as to aggression I have never had a really aggressive hive but would say the darker bees are much more likely to sting you than the yellow Italians. I have one Italian hive and have never been stung by a single bee from that hive- I have never even seem hint of any anger. They seem utterly docile. Darker bees are usually fine but every now and again one just attacks: ZAP! to keep me on my toes I guess.


a local beek told me that he believes that the sad fact is: aggressive bees produce more! he tried yellow Italian and liked them for their docile nature but found they never produced as much so fased them out. It kind of makes sense to me that productive bees would be aggressive: they take pride in their work and do not suffer fools.


There could be something in that theory Jack, but I am happy to get less honey from bees that have a hate wish against me. I always have all my gear on till I open my hives and assess their state of mind then strip off to the level that is what I figure is ok. It is too warm to wear all the gear and not to suffer dehydration up here.
My Italians have a very calm way about them unless I provoke them. :grinning:


There you go. I guess one can never say either is better, unless measured by honey production.
My Italians generally produce more, but by the time they get out of winter mode, maintaining their own, my Carnies have filled at least a super in spring and are ready for splitting.
Looking at my 2 year records, there isn’t much between them.
But then, 2 year records isn’t much at all.