Author Topic: Suddenly Turned Mean  (Read 409 times)

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Offline Les

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Suddenly Turned Mean
« on: June 25, 2018, 04:23:43 pm »
So this morning I am out in the garden and one of the ladies went after me with a vengeance.  I was about 15 yards away from the hives.  Then two of them went after Ken and stung him in the ear (he can't run as fast me  :laugh:).  Tried to sit on the deck which is about the same distance and they came after me and my nephew.  I will say that I worked the hive this morning but only peeked into the honey super.....never touched the brood boxes.  Also, we harvested our first honey yesterday and had placed the empty frames in a tote out in the yard for them to clean out.  At first I thought perhaps the frames were too close to the hives and moved them into the woods.  Nothing changed, they still came after us so I pulled the tote, covered it and removed it totally from the yard.  They are still nasty....
have never experienced this with any of the hives in my yard.  Any thoughts on what the heck changed their disposition so abrubtly?  Do they get crabby before they swarm?  This is the second year for the queen and she has been a phenomenal egg producer, I would hate to replace her now.  So, for now I have set up a sprinkler between the house and the hive in hopes of thwarting their path and behavior enough to revert them back to normal.

Online tedh

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2018, 08:15:34 pm »
Hi Les, is this a really strong colony?  The reason i ask is because our strongest colonies, last year and this year, got meaner than all get out at this time of summer.  Not sure if it's the size of the colony or the heat.  Might even be a combination of both.  How were they when you took the honey?  It takes some of the joy of beekeeping away when they seem to cruise the yard looking for someone to sting.  Ted
Share that which you have an abundance of.  In doing so both the giver and receiver are enriched.

Offline Les

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2018, 08:29:38 pm »
Hi Ted, very strong colony.  I wanted to split the hive before they swarmed but could not locate the queen.  As I searched for the queen they were getting upset but to be expected when you are pulling them apart down to the bottom brood box.  I know I could have done a walk away split to reduce the hive but I really did not want the old queen to swarm and it's all about decision making when you are up to your eyeballs in bees that are getting unhappy. I took two supers of honey off a week ago and they were fine. 

Online Jen

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2018, 09:50:01 pm »
Hey Les  :) How about dearth. We are going thru small dearths. Like Flow, dearth, flow, dearth. Makes for cranky bees. This spring/summer has been particularly stingy for me and several other beeks that I know.
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Offline Les

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2018, 10:34:30 pm »
Jen, not quite because they are still bringing in lots of nectar from somewhere.  Going into July I think we will go into a dearth, although it has just been a plain weird Spring into Summer. 

Online Jen

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2018, 10:58:55 pm »
Same here Les, I was beginning to wish for November to close up the hives for awhile.

My next guess is to inspect the hive and see if they are queenless, or preparing for a swarm or supercedure.
There Is Peace In The Queendom
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Online tedh

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2018, 08:06:53 am »
It's interesting that they were okay during honey harvest. That certainly wasn't the case for me.  Ted
Share that which you have an abundance of.  In doing so both the giver and receiver are enriched.

Offline efmesch

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2018, 09:45:30 am »
I think you gave the reason for the bees' bad behavior---"we harvested our first honey yesterday and had placed the empty frames in a tote out in the yard for them to clean out"
Hives, especially strong ones, aren't too happy about having their hard earned honey stolen.  That puts them on the defensive.  Placing the frames for a "clean out" in the open, just increases the excitement.  Other hives in the neighborhood like to get into the act of cleaning out the remnants and the result is antagonistic robbing behavior.
My general practice is to replace the emptied supers back on the hives towards evening.  That gives the girls the room they were used to, makes them happy, collecting the honey from the open cells and makes for a quiet readjustment to their new situation overnight with no robbing.
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Offline brooksbeefarm

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2018, 10:03:22 am »
The workers are female ;D (enough said) I have some mean hives, at lease one in all of my seven yards and i save them for the last too work :yes: At my age i don't consider them mean i just look at them as flying doctors  8) to keep my Arthritis at bay O:-) Jack
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Offline Les

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2018, 10:18:27 am »
Efmesh, my thoughts were that since the empty frames were out in the backyard and I am quite sure the scent of honey was everywhere, they decided that the entire backyard was their territory to protect.  After running the sprinkler most of the afternoon yesterday, this morning I was out in the yard and none of the ladies came after me...…..another lesson learned.  This has been a season for lessons.  Thanks everyone for your input, always appreciated.  Now lets see if I can get some work out of my nephew today LOL!  We are installing a pond and I am so excited to add something to the environment to benefit the birds and bees, heck all the critters!

Offline efmesch

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2018, 10:46:19 am »
Les, when collecting nectar outside the hive, it's amazing how "sharing" bees can be with "their" territory.  I often enjoy watching how bees can back away from a flower when another one comes to visit a flower where they are.  When collecting NECTAR, there's no fighting or antagonizing.  I like to show this gentility of foraging bees to spectators who are afraid of bees, by gently "petting" a bee on the back of its thorax while it is busy inside a flower.  I've never received a sting from a collecting bee while I infringed on her territory.
The source of offensive defensiveness comes from the situation in the hive and from the frenzy of getting a free load of HONEY from unprotected combs.  Returning the remaining honey from the frames directly into the hive at a time of day when, because of the oncoming darkness no outside excitement can follow, gives the whole excitement time a chance to pass calmly.
All I can suggest is try it once and decide for yourself when you see how it goes.

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2018, 04:02:20 pm »
I agree with what efmesch said.  After harvesting I put the harvested boxes back on the colonies.  This is when I usually get stung.  We mow the yard prior to pulling honey and give them at least 1 week before attempting anything like that again.  The first year my husband got lit up like a Christmas tree!  They are down right grumpy!  If there is a weaker colony that could use a boost of fresh honey, I make sure they get a box or two to clean out.  The bees will take that honey down into the brood boxes.  They will clean those frames up and make the comb nice and pretty again instead of tearing them up, like in a robbing situation.  If you leave them on they might put more in them.
Sometimes I leave some of my extracting equipment out for the bees to clean up.  This can result in drowning in honey.  So I am careful about what I put out there.

Online Jen

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2018, 01:05:33 am »
Ef  :) I still love how you present your posts in such a way that keeps the romance of bees alive. How the bees look after each other, how they share, how they mend each other, how to pet them when they are busy. I always listen to your every word ~Hugs
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Offline Noise Maker

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2018, 03:50:39 pm »
I wonder if some activity outside the hive may get the bees in a defensive mode. Am thinking a nosy animal investigating the hive, may set them off. Here we come a while later, and not knowing what had happened, walk into a stirred up bee yard? Our two hives are generally pretty calm. Every once in a while I can walk down to investigate, or walking the dogs after they get fed their supper, I can tell that they are stirred up as I get closer.

Only once, I was sitting in my chair next to the entrance watching the bees, have I gotten stung. One flew from behind and bit me right off. I got out of there quick. Before that happened, they were just carrying on as usual. If I have the hive open and get stung, it's usually because I did something reaching into the deep hive that gets them mad. Am still learning.
I don't know what I'm doing, but am doing it with confidence.
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Offline efmesch

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2018, 03:26:47 pm »
Noise Maker says, " Am still learning."
Ef says: The longer you stick with bees, the longer you will be saying that.  :D
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Offline NorCal

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2018, 04:21:40 pm »
Les, I'm pretty new at this bee thing, but I'll share my experience with mean bees.  I had a very strong hive that turned mean, I mean seriously mean.  When I opened the lid I would get perhaps a hundred or so bees on my veil, all trying to get me. The bees would bump and sting family members and pets that were 50 yds away from the apiary on days when I didn't even disturb them.   I split that strong hive into 3 separate hives.  I installed two purchased queens into the splits and the bees finally calmed down after 10 weeks and they are easy to handle now.  The third hive (the split with the original queen from the strong hive) also calmed downed significantly after the split.  I was making preparations to eradicate those mean hives at 8 weeks after installing the new queens, but I gave them a few more weeks and they are great now.  Like I said, I'm still new at this, but I think you could calm them down with some new queens and some patience.   

Offline apisbees

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Re: Suddenly Turned Mean
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2018, 12:23:33 am »
If you are going through your hive to make a split and you can not find the queen DO IT ANYWAY! Put 1/2 the brood in a new hive and leave the other 1/2 in the parent hive location, In 48 Hr go back in and you will know what 1/2 the queen is in as the queen-less half will have started drawing out queen cells. It the queen is not where you want her to be just switch the brood super locations.
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