Why Are My Bees Aggressive
Why Are My Bees Aggressive
Okay, let’s be honest. Most hives will behave differently in late summer and fall. Every fall new beekeepers call and ask us why their bees seem more defensive in the fall. Here’s why:
1) It’s hotter and more humid.
2) There is usually a nectar dearth.
3) Because there is a dearth, more bees are robbing other hives, thus, hives are more protective against being robbed.
4) Your colonies are running at maximum populations. There are no longer 10,000 bees, but close to 60,000!
Here are a few tips on making inspections during late summer or fall.
1) DO NOT LEAVE THE HIVE OPEN VERY LONG
I try never to work a colony more than 10 minutes tops during late summer or fall! If you do, most colonies will begin to become more flighty, loud and protective. If you keep a hive open longer than 10 minutes during a dearth, other bees will quickly smell the honey and start landing to rob. Remember that not all the bees you see flying around the opened hive in the fall belongs to that hive. Many can be robber bees which makes your bees more defensive.
2) KEEP BOXES COVERED
If you remove a super or the top deep, other bees will quickly find them and begin robbing. I place a top cover upside down, then I stack my boxes inside the inverted top cover. I take another top cover and place it over the top of those boxes. Now, no bees can fly in or out. You might think it will get hot in those boxes and it will. That’s why you need to inspect fast during this time of the year. You can use a screen bottom board if you want to provide more air, and just close it off. In other words, place the boxes you are removing on to another screen bottom board, but have the entrance closed, then place a top on those boxes while you inspect the final deep. This will greatly cut down on the amount of your own bees flying in the air and protect against robbing.
3) SUIT UP MORE THAN USUAL
Be prepare to take a few more stings. It’s hotter, more humid, limited nectar sources and robber bees are everywhere.Your hive is finally huge in numbers. In the spring your colony will be nice again, but for late summer and fall, suit up more than usual.
I know it is hot, and suits can be hot, but the better protected you are the more you will enjoy working your bees.
4) KEEP YOUR HIVES COOL AND WATERED
Our Burns Bees Feeding Systems can be used as a cooling system during a summer dearth too. Here’s what I’m doing this week. It’s in the high 90s each day this week and through next week. I’ve placed these feeding systems on some of my hives but instead of giving them sugar water, I am simply providing water in one of the jars. The other jar hole I am leaving opened as well as the pollen hole. I have a deep hive body surrounding this feeder on top so hot air can rise into this box away from the colony. I also add a small 1/8” wedge under the top cover to help exhaust heat. Plus the water is available on top of the cluster to help the bees cool the hive.
5) A BIT MORE SMOKE THAN USUAL
Smoke will always calm bees and you might need to use a bit more than normal. The funny thing is, in late summer and fall, you will start inspecting your hive and all will seem the same. But, after a few minutes you will see a rise in defensive behavior, something you are not used to seeing in the spring during a nectar flow.