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Re-Queening an aggressive colony


#1

Hi there,

I’m thinking about Re-queening one of my hives as they seemed to be more aggressive than the other 4 i have. Every time i do an inspection i get stung where the others are very very calm and chilled and never been stung.

my question is , is it too late in the season to be re-queening now since we are in Autumn and does anybody have any recommended queen breeders i can get a queen from that is calm ?

I’m in the Hills District of Sydney.

Cheers,
Ed


#2

KIQueenBees talk to Stephen (Ligurians)


#3

Sydney hills?
I know my nuc and queen supplier in the subtropics closed delivery of same down till August.
You may be able to get a nuc around here, subtropics Australia, don’t know about queens. You may have to sit it out.
But see what our more experienced forum members have on offer in terms of advice.
I may be able to offer you a nuc via a mate who has some for sale, but not a queen.
Rodderick here might be able to help you out.


#5

Would that be indicative of aggressiveness? I got stung through my suit by a really calm colony.


#6

Before you re-queen.
Are you inspecting this hive first or last?
Are you changing your gloves before you look into them if they are last?


#7

Really, a healthy colony will put their guards and defenders out when somebody intrudes the brood nest. Things we do, moving too fast, cutting comb, moving the queen, killing a bee, all sets them on alert.
I have experienced just my first hive being calm, upset, over protective, confused, aggressive, all in one day. All is settled 2 days after at the latest.
I thought my hive had turned aggressive, but they had a reason.
My other 2 hives are pussycats, young and still small, yet I had a nasty sting through the suit into my upper arm when I took a frame out of one. Happy with that, want to see their fighting spirit.
Sometimes I use smoke, often not. Learning.
@edmondo, you are the best person to judge if your colony is aggressive or just protective. If you can and her laying pattern is good, I sure would wait till spring to get a good queen from a reputable breeder.


#11

Bees can react severely to sting pheromone so it’s a good idea to make sure your gloves at least are clean before every colony. I wear two pairs of nitriles and change the top pair between every colony. If you can’t do without leather gloves then put a pair of nitriles on top?
It’s tempting to look into a feisty colony last but you can work yourself up into a lather by the time you end up doing it.
I find it’s easiest to either do them first when I am fresh and on my toes or on a separate day.


#13

@Dee alerted me to something my first mentor tipped me on. Always check the crankiest hive last. If you check the cranky hive first, the aggressive bees from the cranky hive will make the bees from the calm hives cranky. That was 30 years ago, so cranky hives are nothing new. We just learn to live with them until such times they become unworkable.

If your hive is cranky enough to the point it is unworkable, there IS a strategy for finding the old queen. Let me know if you need to get to that stage.

If you can find the old queen to kill her without needing a special strategy, your colony is not what I call “unworkable”


#14

Hi @edmondo, Some very sound advice coming from the posts here, however if you really feel you need to replace your queen, send me a PM with your details and I can put you in contact with a fellow beekeeper in the Hills District (Thornleigh) who received a parcel of queens this week. I picked one up from him only yesterday. But queen breeders are shutting down till spring so it may have been one of the last deliveries. An alternative would be to make a small split from one of your calm strong hives as long as there are a good supply of drones around, still a few drones being bred and flying in my part of the world near Chatswood.


#15

You are the one that has to work them so really it comes down to if you think they are to aggressive.
I re queened one of mine because I wasn’t happy with their behaviour even though I had never been stung.
20 or more bees would fly out and be around my veil every time I removed the lid. Some days they would follow me over 100m from the hive before they decided to leave me alone after I had closed the hive up.


#16

Hi Jeff! I would love to read about your strategy to find the queen. My Queen Lala is always hard to find, only saw her once, another time I found her on a photo.


#17

Hi @Webclan, this basically works for me if a colony is unworkable.

What I do is grab another bottom box & half fill it with frames of brood from placid hives & fill the rest with frames of drawn comb… Smoke the cranky hive well, then remove the honey super without taking the lid off, gently place it down a few meters from the original site… Then take the brood box several meters away, & replace it with the 2nd brood box you prepared earlier. Replace the QX & honey super… After a period of time, most of the field & guard bees would have left the cranky brood box & returned to the original site, leaving mainly young & nurse bees. It will be a 100% easier to inspect the frames to look for the queen… Even if some bees out of the brood start to attack you, you can walk away & they will eventually return to the old site, leaving you free to continue inspecting frames. Admittedly with this strategy you’re basically doing a split. You buy a new queen to replace the cranky queen at the same time the bees in the 2nd brood box (the bulk of the colony minus the nurse bees) start making a new queen… It would be good if there was a lot of hatching bees in the brood you add.

PS, getting back to your problem of finding the queen: If your queen is unmarked, it does take a bit of practice to locate the queen. You can do a few things to help. Make sure all of your brood frames are nicely drawn, straight & mostly worker comb. What I do sometimes is hold the frame on a 45deg angle to look for the queen, sometimes they stand out by doing that.

I helped some people find a queen the other day, after inspecting every frame of a 27 frame colony, the queen was on the last frame. Anyway the lady had the apparatus to mark the queen, which she did. I don’t think there is any shame in marking a queen. @Valli has her queens marked.


#18

Awesome strategy Jeff. Thanks for sharing. The time to use this strategy will come one day. :relieved:


#19

You are welcome:) I did a PS on the previous post. A bit of nasty weather around at the moment:) I hope you’re safe down there.


#20

Yep, the winds are just starting. We are up top of Main Arm, had about 400mm of rain since midnight. Actually, we just hit 450mm. We are quite safe in a big house with awesome views, can see all the way to Queensland, well, not today. Also independent on solar, all very cozy. Did flood shopping yesterday and made sure we are all on the right side of the flooding creeks, that means home.
The rain hasn’t stopped yet at Buderim either?
Sciencemaster is down in the valley, but his house is higher up, near a creek. Bet he never saw it quite as high as this.


#21

Just the sort of thing that crops up so often, so different, yet works fine for both of us.
It’s what keeps us beekeepers on our toes :wink:
In general I like to look into my silly hive on its own on a separate day.


#22

Looking for the queen in a hot hive.
Move hive to the side. Lift off supers and put on a box or something cross corner so bees can get in and out, add a roof or lid of some sort.
Take brood box away as far as you can …at least ten feet.
Leave for half an hour.
When you go back most of the aggressive bees have flown back to the supers on the original site.
Then you can look through more calmly. When you pick up a brood frame quickly look first on the face of the frame next in line (the queen is often there), then on the side of the comb facing away from you( the one in your hand)
Your inspection chases the queen which is why she is so often found on the last frame.
If you still can’t find her after one more pass through the box, get another brood box and separate the frames in pairs. Close up for ten minutes. You will invariably find her between two frames next time you look in. Good luck


#23

We have lots of wind & rain outside, however the rain is not as heavy as I would have expected it to be. We are nice & high. No problems with water here (touch wood). I don’t know if my rain gauge is faulty because we only measured 100 mills since last night. It’s getting wild & wooly out there now & the rain is getting heavier & the wind increasing while I’m typing.


#24

Hi Edmondo, looks like your thread is taking several other directions. Apologies, we got some exciting weather up here and naturally talk about it.
Will message Jeff privately from here.


#25

Down in town they had a lot less rain too, the mountains capture the clouds. Glad to hear you are high and dry. Just hope your roof stays on. Good luck! Many people are much worse off. Wonder how our bees are coping. Side wards rain will drown a few apithor traps and with those gusts hives can be thrown over. Hope everybody thought of securing their hives as far as possible. Not much one can do though if it floods.