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Very Aggresive Bees - Stinging on Sight - Requeen Advice?


#1

Hi All. Some key info, I have 2 hives and I am based in WA Australia.

I am posting here for some advice on my current situation. I purchased a traditional hive about this time last year in preparation for adding a flow hive. Everything was going smoothly until about 3 months ago when it swarmed, since then they have become very aggressive.

Up until this time I could approach the hive easily without a suit or veil and the bees paid me no mind but shortly after they swarmed they would increasingly buzz my face to drive me off, but now it has reached the point were I can’t get with 10 meters of the hive without them instantly attacking me in the face with no warning (am writing this with a swollen cheek) as well as following me up 40 meters from the hive (in my suite). They are getting to be a too dangerous as they are attacking any one who comes with in range. I recently took a super full of honey off (I left them a full frame, its summer here) to install the flow hive (which they are taking to) and I was cover in bees attacking my veil (I could hear them bouncing off from the force). Even after washing my suit they still attack on site when trying to inspect the hive, even with a smoker.

Given my limited knowledge and experience I am guessing my store bought gentle queen has parted with the swarm and I know have a feral queen. I also rescued a another swarm from a friends bbq which sits in roughly the same area as the aggressive hive and they give me very little issues ( can approach this hive).

I am posting here for some advice of what to do next, I was looking into re-queening but I wanted to ask a few questions;
1 - Can I simply kill the feral queen, will the bees be able to recover or should I buy one to avoid ending up in the same situation?
2 - How do I stop this from happening again? I think they swarmed before as I was a bit slow in adding the honey super and giving them room to grow but do I need to look for queen cups in the brood box every few weeks?

Any advice appreciated as they are getting out of hand but I want to avoid drowning the hive and starting over.

Cheers.


#2

You can do that. If you do, the remaining bees will try to make a queen cell, and assuming they are successful, she will mate with any drones in your area. However, if you have aggressive drones locally, your hive may not be any better off, and you won’t know about it for 6 weeks. Personally, this late in your season, I would buy a mated queen instead. However, you need to be sure that your current hive is not queenless. If it is, they will kill the new queen as soon as you try to introduce her. Look for centrally-positioned single eggs, uncapped larvae and plenty of worker-sized capped larvae to be sure you have had a queen within the last 2 weeks.

Active swarm prevention. Inspecting every 2 weeks is too long if your colony is crowded and strong. Many people inspect once per week, and even once every 5 days. There are some very good articles about it, like these:
http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/There-Are-Queen-Cells-In-My-Hive-WBKA-WAG.pdf
http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Swarm-Control-Wally-Shaw.pdf

There is a lot more info in the articles than I have time to type out here, and he says it better than I could anyway! :blush:[quote=“BeeBaron, post:1, topic:9606”]
I want to avoid drowning the hive and starting over
[/quote]

Don’t drown the hive, it really isn’t necessary. Requeening should settle them within 4-6 weeks.


#3

Hi Dawn.

Thanks for the info, those articles are great, I’ll have a proper read but having a quick glance through I basically need to inspect more frequently (esp when the hive is packed) and look for vertical swarm queen cups (ones on the end of the frames) and remove them but leave any superseded cells (ones on the frame walls). In terms of inspecting I was given the impression I should not over do it and leave them to it but I guess I need to check for swarming cells more often.

Regarding the queen-less hive and re-queening I think they are ok as the swarming was over a month ago and I think I saw some new bees this morning doing orientation flights (figure 8s?), plus the hive is packed, not short on bees so I am thinking their is a queen but I will double check to be sure before buying another one.

In terms of their sting on sight behavior and flowing far from the hive, is that common?

Also can you recommend any one to buy queens in WA Australia?

;] I would rather not nuke them too.


#4

Can I add my two pennorth?
If you re-queen with a laying mated queen I would make a nuc up for her and get her to lay a frame of brood then kill your bad queen and unite the colonies. Aggressive bees are quite bad at accepting a new queen, especially of a different race.
In my experience yellow/orange bees will accept most others, black bees not at all.
If you don’t have time to do this then introduce your new queen in a push-in cage, positioned very securely over emerging bees. They will accept her straight away and she will lay in the empty cells. It’s not infallible…some bees will tunnel under to get to kill the new queen.
Whatever you do don’t kill them. You still have one remaining option which is to unite them with your other colony


#5

Removing swarm cells will do nothing. The bees will produce more and on older larvae and you will lose a swarm well before the next week you look in. Once you have swarm cells you HAVE to split the colony


#6

Requeening a hot hive:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrequeeninghot.htm


#7

I love this idea. I didn’t want to get into the mechanics of requeening until it was agreed that this was the best solution. However, I think @Dee’s way of doing it is smart and elegant.


#8

Thanks guys. Dee’s idea sounds interesting but how do I go about setting up a nuc for a new queen?

I do have a spare super with new waxed frames, I could just buy a cover and base etc. Can I just put her in there buy herself with a frame of capped honey? Does she need workers?


#9

Thanks Michael, I will check this out too.


#10

I would buy a purpose-made 5-frame nucleus box - they are very cheap, under $40 for a full kit (floor, box and roof). You could do it in an 8 or 10 frame box, but the space is so large, you would need to use dummy/follower boards to restrict the space that the small population has to defend. You then put 2 or 3 drawn frames from the aggressive box into the nucleus box, with 2 empty frames (foundation or foundationless). Now you have a 5 frame mini hive. When it is full, you can merge it or expand it, whatever suits your needs.

@Dee probably has a better way to describe it - she is very good at this kind of thing. She went from 4 to 9 hives in a year, partly using this kind of technique.


#11

I call them two frame nucs because that’s what you start with.
One frame of emerging brood placed next to the wall of the nuc box. You can tell an emerging frame because it will have either an empty spot in the middle of capped brood or that empty space might have eggs in it. Make sure your horrid queen is not on it. This is absolutely paramount. In fact it’s a good idea to find her and put her somewhere safe but don’t kill her yet you need her for a couple of weeks.
Then add a frame of stores. You don’t have to shake the bees off either frame. Then put in three empty frames. Drawn are best but foundation will do if you don’t have drawn. Then take three remaining frames from the original box and shake all the bees off them into your nuc box. Close up and move a good three metres away. Leave an hour then hang your new queen in her cage between the frame of stores and the frame of brood. That frame of brood will emerge and give you three frames of bees.


#12

Ps. You need to check your queen has been freed a few days later. When your frame of brood has emerged I find it useful to swap that frame with the frame of stores. I put the original frame of brood next to the wall as that is the warmest place to start with


#13

Hi BB, when the time comes to re-queen the hive, take it quite a few meters away before opening the hive & use plenty of smoke. Take the hive to the original site once the job is done. You may have to do that twice, once to kill the old queen & once again to introduce the new queen.

When you open the hive, take your time so that the aggressive bees get a chance to return to the old site. It’s much easier working on an aggressive hive if the hive is away from the original site because the aggressive bees will go back to there. This video of mine kind of explains what I’m talking about. Except in this video I used brood from a quiet hive so the bees could make a new queen.


-Edit- The hive that I dealt with was only a 100 or so meters away from where I ended up placing the old brood box, consequently most of the bees went back to the old site, leaving that brood I left in there unprotected which gave the SHB somewhere to lay. Another lesson learnt.


#14

Hi All, thanks for the ideas that’s a big help.

As I have an empty 8 frame super on hand I think I will turn that into a nuc as it will save me having to move them later, I will use an entrance reducer to make it easier for them to defend the larger space. So here’s the plan with what I have on hand based of the various ideas;

1- Grab a frame of emerging brood from the angry hive and place in near the wall
2 - Add 2 frames of capped honey stores ( I collected these a few days ago and was waiting if some like this happened)
3 - Add 2 frames of drawn foundation from old hive
4 - Add 3 Empty wax frames
5 - Move new nuc about 3 meters away, leave for an hour and add new queen between stores and brood.
5 - Plug the gaps in the old hive with empty wax frames
6 - Check on new queen in a few days.

During all this I will make sure the feral queen stays in the old hive. Is the above process sound?

Some Questions though;

  • Dee you mentioned hanging on to the feral queen for a few weeks, why would I not kill her when the new queen arrives?
  • What do I do with the old angry hive? Should I kill off the feral queen and hope they migrate to the new nuc?

Jeff moving the hives around looks like a good idea ;]


#15

You’ve got me puzzled. What bees will occupy the nuc 3 meters away? Do you have access to brood from a good queen? You’d be better off to use one of those in the nuc. Place it on the old site & move the original hive 3 meters away. After a day or more of the field bees returning to the nuc box, you’ll find it easy to find the old queen to kill. You could kill her & replace her 2 days later.

I like the idea of splitting an angry hive into two. When you work on each hive, you wont have as many bees chasing you.

If you do decide to move the angry hive 3 meters away & most of the older bees go back to the nuc., make sure there is enough nurse bees left to take care of the brood, keeping it warm etc. What you could do after sufficient bees have left the old hive is move it several k’s away to stop too many bees returning to the nuc… On the other hand, you could move some of the brood frames across to the nuc. Make sure you know which ones they are so you can destroy any queen cells they produce on those frames, leaving only the queen cells on the frame from the friendly hive. Unless you have re-queened it. I hope all of this helps. cheers


#16

I’m new to bees and also have a hot hive, not quite as aggressive as yours but 50 plus bees head butting the veil every time I do a inspection. Regardless of how much smoke I use and how gentle I am they act the same and I have 10 or so stings in my gloves at the end of the inspection.
I have ordered a new queen for later this month, my plan was to kill the existing queen, leave them queenless overnight and then introduce the new queen in her cage the next day.
I am also interested in increasing my hive number from my current 3, I have had it suggested putting the current queen into a nuc with just one frame of brood and another of honey quite often significantly quitens them even once number build up again.
I’m going to try it as will only cost me a frame of brood and if they reject the new queen I can put the old queen back in, leave them until spring and try again.


#17

That sounds like a good idea except I’d probably go with 2 frames of brood, bees & queen plus the one frame with honey. Would you have a frame of brood from a quiet hive you can add to the cranky hive? The strategy being that you only leave the queen cells on that frame & destroy the rest. I’d be inclined to take the split a few k’s away so that all of the bees stay in the nuc. Otherwise too many bees could go back to the original hive, thus leaving the brood vulnerable to chilling or shb damage.

If you had 2 frames of brood from a quiet hive, once all the queen cells are capped, you might be able to use one frame with queen cells for each hive, shortly after you kill the queen.

-Edit- PS, my apologies, I forgot that you were going to introduce a new queen later this month. I would still go with 2 frames of brood instead of one.


#18

No.
You kill her when you are ready to unite the nuc you made with your new queen. i.e. when she has laid up a frame.
You might as well use her to make more bees while you are waiting to unite
And Jeff is right. If you have the bees then two frames of brood in your new nuc is better than one


#19

Question…can @bee barron keep the dispatched queen in a small vile with some alcohol to use later to try to catch a swarm?


#20

I would suggest a vial, phial or bottle. But if you have some vile alcohol, that might be OK. :smile:

Seriously though, I think this is a good use of an ex-queen.