Hi all. Newbie beekeeper from Victoria Australia here. So I did a very quick first inspection for spring. I watched them coming and going for a few minutes and they were not bothered by me. They are bringing in a lot of pollen. I opened up the hive and the girls came out to check me out. I used my smoker like I have done before. I went to pull the second frame and hundreds if them came and hit my suit! There was a strange buzz unlike their normal sound. The weather was not perfect but wasn’t a bad day. I quickly put on a ideal super as there was a lot of honey and pollen stores. I wasn’t able to look for brood and eggs as they really didn’t want me there. The girls have been feisty before but not aggressive like this. In all honesty my confidence is not high and any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Honestly it probably was just the weather, there is rain on the way and looking at the report it says it was a bit windy in Melbourne today.
I have two hives at the moment, one is always very calm during inspections and would seemingly tolerate anything, while the other is always a bit tetchy and defensive.
When I inspected the tetchy ones last week the weather was unstable and they were trying to sting in numbers, today was much calmer and while they did come out and fly around me they were not attempting to sting apart from one or two.
Hopefully the weather picks up asap so I get get out there for another look!
How often are you inspecting them? When was the last time prior to today?
I try to go for above 18 degrees C, sunny and not too breezy with no bad weather approaching. It helps when most of the foragers are out and about provided there are resources available.
As you gain confidence handling your bees they should reward you by being less defensive as they can probably sense fear or nervousness and will take advantage.
Before winter I tried to get in there at least every 3 weeks. I did get in there once in Aug, about 2 weeks after o moved the hive. They were in the shade so I found a better location for them. I noticed that the brood box had a bit of mould so I changed over brood boxes. I had a very quick look as I moved over the frames. There was capped brood, honey and nectar but I didn’t see any eggs or larve. That were instantly more active once moved.
I love walking around the garden watching them and I’m very keen to learn as much as I can!!!
I have had hives really agro on the odd inspection and it is often a result of a thunderstorm that hasn’t yet arrives at the apiary. If only one hive is agro then I look for the issue possibly being in the hive but when more than one hive is angry I consider the condition on the day.
One day with dark clouds in the distance I went to mow my apiary site and starting the mower the bees went ballistic before I got to adjust the cutting height so I bailed out, a few hours later a really heavy thunderstorm arrived. Next day I mowed with no interest from the hives.
If you move a hive there will be a lot more activity but where they aggressive or just orientating to the new location.
I will try again on a better day and hopefully they will let me in! Do you think I need to re queen this hive? I got them last year from a friend who split his colony. They had been bumped and knocked over by his cows so they have always been a bit feisty. Do you think I should re queen them or should I wait to see what the brood pattern is like?
Thanks again for your comment
A hive that is permanently aggressive requeening is an option, but if it normally a workable hive I don’t think it is an issue of nasty genetics of the queen. In my opinion too often the queen is replaced thinking it has to be the queen at fault. I have an apiary of over 40 hives so if all, or the majority of the hives are angry I think about the conditions and climate of the day. If one hive is angry then I will do an inspection for overcrowding, a lack of space in the hive, a honey bound hive, any of those things can make a hive angry. Bees really need work to do to keep them happy.
Ok thanks so much.
They are amazing little creatures. I just want to do right by them.
Happy to pass on advice, that is what this forum is all about mate. I had a great mentor to learn from but also learnt from my mistakes too…
Barometric pressure & humidity. Bees have a knack of knowing when the weather is going to change and will let you know about it .
Good thing is you’ll know when to pull your washing in well befire it rains .
I love watching them all flying back to the hive when the weather looks like its changing.
Like little bomber squads returning to base
Great thanks so much.
I’ll bee watching the weather forecast more closely now!!
So a little.bit of an update. I checked out the girls today…weather was beautiful!!! I had 2 guards come over and give me a little tap but everyone else was calm! I checked over the ideal box but no work has been done on that. The other frames look full from the top. I just wanted to have a calm experience to boost my confidence (and my smoker died) so I didn’t go any futher. The weather looks like it will be perfect on Fri so I’m planning to do a full inspection!
Many many thanks again for your guidance! It’s been great!!!
As a beginner Stacey your going well, work slow and calm and that will help not stress the bees. Good that when the smoker called it a day that you did too.
Don’t over do the inspections, once every two or three weeks is what I do. Keep a good record of each hive so before an inspection you can refresh your memory of anything to check up on, I use my word processor and find it a very valuable tool in managing my hives.
Thanks for the update.
I have a leather bound journal that I write up everything from what I saw to how I felt about my visit to the hive. Thanks again!