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Suddenly aggressive bees?

I have been doing weekly checks (inspection) of our first hive. This week, I was attempting to get some wax for the super (to try to coax them up there, it’s been 2 weeks and still no activity up there). For the first time the bees became aggressive and I was stung 4x. I was able to complete my task at hand and also removed the queen excluder because it seems to be recommending as well. However, is this an indication I need to quit the weekly checks? It was 85 degrees out, so was it the heat? I would appreciate any input.
Thank you.

Hi Aimee,

You don’t say where in the world you are based. I presume northern hemisphere, but even then, we can’t tell what your bees are facing. However, there are many reasons why your bees might be more defensive:

  1. There is a nectar dearth on, and the hive is protecting what it already has stored away.
  2. During an inspection, you accidentally dispatched your nice gentle queen, and her replacement is less amenable.

Many other reasons, some covered here:
http://honeybeesuite.com don’t remember the exact page, but Rusty does have some good ideas.

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Ah, found the link. Here you go:


Riveting reading. Well done! Great job and a wonderful lesson. Our bees “bumped” me a lot more than previously this weekend. However, that hive is probably 50% stronger than it was 2 weeks ago, and we also have hot dry weather with something of a nectar dearth. Our nucleus supplier says that our hive has done exceptionally well, compared with other nucs he has supplied, but we never stop learning.

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I am proud of you too. You did exactly the right thing. OMMMMMMMMM!!! :ok_hand:

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G’day Cowgirl, well done. Sounds like you have some bees with attitude there. Do you know what I started doing when a bee follows me to the house. Lets face it, the bee wants to sting me & lose her life anyway. I let her follow me into the house. It wont take long before she leaves me & tries to get out of the house & goes for a window where I can squash her. It means you can go back outside without the worry of her waiting to sting you.


Yes, of course, sorry I read your comment too quick & thought an aggressive bee followed you to the house. Sorry about that. I have also had bees in my veil more interested in getting out then stinging me. I had some angry bees yesterday. THEY WERE NOT HAPPY!!!

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I know the feeling:) lol …One got up my bee suit leg & got me a beauty on the calf. That wasn’t where the angry bees were either.

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Bees generally become more aggressive as the flow season progresses. They are building stores of honey for themselves and will go to stinging lengths to protect it if they feel the need. Also will sting if they become agitated or colony is disturbed. Not to worry, it’s their nature.

I had to split my hive last week after noticing a population explosion and a few queen cells. Unfortuantely i could not find my queen due to the large numbers but did my best. Went ahead with the split inspecting each frame before i installed in the new box and closed everything up. Went back a few days ago and the old hive is very aggressive while the split seems very calm. After reading this article I have come to the conclusion that i may have moved my queen with the queen cells along with the split and left original hive queenless. My question is. If I go back, find that queen and put her back in the original hive, will that help or just wishful thinking ? Obviously i would need to do this immediately before the split hive gets new queens and opens a whole other can of worms for me.

Sorry I missed this post for some reason. What did you decide to do? I would be cautious about splitting at this time of year, although I understand your reasons. I would probably look at recombining them in September.

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I agree that it is very likely you have left the hive queenless and that is the reason they are angry, rather than looking for the queen to transfer her why not just move the queen cells that will save time with the hive open.

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Thats what i ended up doing. At this late in the year i think my options are pretty limited. Will be checking again next week to see if things have calmed down any. Thanks for the advice everyone!


You should think along the lines of feeding them up so that the hive is built up for the Winter with stores and enough bees to cluster for warmth. 59/50 sugar water and even maybe pollen if the foraging is on the lean side.

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Since our last correspondence both hives have come along wonderfully, new hive re-queened with a very productive little lady and the old hive went along their merry way and gifted me with 45lbs of honey around early september. After harvesting I have been feeding and prepping both hives for winter. Days are still nice here for the most part but nights are starting to come earlier and chillier with each week.

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That is great news, down under I am back into shorts and a T shirt tending my bees, Warming up nicely and lots of flowers now in the bush.
I’m doing splits and on 5 week cycles of extracting my Flow Hives and about the same with 8 frame Langstroth’s.
A tip, if your bees need pollen for a boost try “unbleached white flour” when pollen is not coming into the hive. I tried it in my apiary and it certainly got the bee’s attention even though they were bring pollen in.
Regards John

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Interesting thread, and I’m glad that I’ve come across it. My bees have also become overwhelmingly defensive over last week +. For months I was able to sit by the hive, read them books, tell them jokes, dig my bare hands in there and give all the bee’s high fives with no protection whatsoever.

Last week however, I was walking towards the hive as I usually do - from the back, slowly, listening for the hum and watching for any abnormalities. I was still a good distance away (approx. 10’) when one flew over and sat on my hand. I was watching it closely thinking it was friendly, but soon enough, the place where she was sitting making funny motions turned red and I felt the stings - one after another (actually had an infection there - white puss oozing after 2 days).

That time I walked away and came back at the end of the day. I was able to get much closer to the hive <5’, but yet again, the stinging started - at least 10x. The next day, same thing. I have not opened the hive since to inspect, nor would I be able to get close without protective clothing. Just ordered some today :frowning:

I’m thinking this could be linked to rainy weather over the last week +, maybe difficulty finding food, and a very sporadic growth of the family. The old bees (the ones that were so darn nice) are probably long dead by now, and these young snappers must think I’m a stranger since I have not been at the hive for about 3 weeks.

If there are any other thoughts or suggestions, I’d gladly listen to what experienced beekeepers have to say. At the end of the day, I’d like to go back to bee keeping w/o the protective clothing, smoker and what not.


Welcome to the forum, you will find lots of reading from our friendly and helpful members.
I wonder if your bees got a little angry about you telling the same jokes too often and that got them angry at you.:smile:
Seriously though, rain over a few consecutive days can make the hive hot, but there can be other causes as well. It is time to suit up, light up the smoker and on the next fine day and it is warm enough to do an inspection of the hive for the cause of their mood change.
The things to look for is eggs and young brood, the sign of an active queen in the hive. Check for stores and for anything out of the normal. Do you see any queen cells that might indicate a poor laying queen and the colony deciding she has to go to ‘bee heaven’.
If you don’t have enough knowledge to do a good hive inspection then find a local bee group for help in finding what is making the colony angry, figure that there must be a reason, when you find the cause you will then be able to bring the bees back to ‘normal’.
I’m sure others will also have ideas and tips but I do think you need help, which you may have to pay for their time.
Cheers Peter

I agree with @Peter48, there’s no avoiding protective clothing & a smoker. Rainy weather does make the bees defensive. Doing brood inspections, which we must do can also make the bees defensive. The brood is their next generation & the soul purpose of the bees existence. They give their life to protect the brood.

My view is that bees don’t get used to us. They see us as nothing more than a predator. Sometimes during good times they will tolerate us to a certain degree. When honey is scarce, they are not so conciliatory.

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A single honey bee should only be able to sting once and then they die.