NZBF: Super Aggessive hive - low brood. High Varroa.

Welcome to NZ Beekeepers+
Would you like to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.
Sign up
245
156
Christchurch
Experience
Beginner
I cracked open my two home hives to do a bee wash and varroa check. Watched Trevs video (Thanks Trev) and got a mini strainer / pickle jar type think to do the sieving.

Hive one - beautiful bees - although a couple of guard bees were a bit peeved by the time I finished. Solid brood (yay) and tons of bees across two boxes. Samples 288 bees and found 3 varroa. 1.04%
Just on 1 percent. Re-adjusted the strips slightly but happy as they are.

Hive two - flow hive which is now two 8 frame boxes and no flow frames (the bees didnt take to them). I got the original queen from @CHCHPaul and it was lovely. Some time around Christmas I got a feeling something changed in the hive, noticed a change in temperament and noted they were more niggly. I havent seen the queen but had noted there was fresh brood etc. Wondered if there was a wild mated queen in play again.

Recently they had been quite niggly with multiple guard bees dive bombing me if I stood closer than 1-2 metres for 2-3 minutes. Putting the strips in a 4 weeks ago they were testy as all get out. Today they were plain old fashioned rabid. I've had one aggressive hive before when a virgin mated locally. That hive was bad. This one is insane. Six bees stings in a row and dozens of bees aggressively attacking me - I walked away for a patch.

After moving away and clapping a few really persistent bees (Thanks @Maggie James for that technique) I went around the other side of the house. I was found again by 6 - 8 bees who were seriously aggressive.
Clapped them, got found by more. Went inside, stepped out 7 minutes later and almost instantly there were another two.

I am wondering how much I smelled of stings and if that was causing the issue - but even so - these are seriously aggressive.

The hive looks honey / pollen bound. I had pulled two honey frames from them, to make space as they looked pollen / honeybound. I had noted lower brood and had some concerns re amount of feed. Now there is maybe half a frame of brood (out of 16 frames) and tons of pollen / honey. I didn't find the queen, as after getting some bees to test for varroa I shut them up for safety.

I only collected around 150 bees and found 7 varroa. 4.6% They are not healthy.

My dilemma. I have tons of honey and pollen, a hive with very low brood, about 3/4 of a box with frames covered by bees and a super aggressive hive on my hands. A new queen would fix the aggression but I am wondering if I am throwing good bees after bad.

My other hive has solid frames of capped brood I can make use of and I have two other hives going strongly in a separate location. Should I try to find the queen, kill her, and try for an emergency queen, buy in a known mated queen or just add the boxes onto another hive to become part of them? The hive has two, 8 frame boxes, ###### all brood and 4 apivar strips have been in place for 4 weeks. Tons of pollen and capped honey.

Thoughts? I would appreciate any advice on this.

PS: I suspect I dont want to mate a queen in my area again. It seems two out of two were super aggressive - and I dont want to try for three.
I have considered pulling the hive to pieces, refitting it in two standard 10 frame boxes and try to see if it will rebuild brood with more space to lay.
 

kaihoka

Gold
231
197
whanganui inlet
Experience
Hobbyist
Thanks. Was worried if they become a source of infection for other hives in the district. I've narrowed the entrance etc. There is certainly enough food for them in there.
Can you still buy mated queens . ?
When I brought mine the beek said he was caging till the end of march .
 

Trevor Gillbanks

Staff member
Founder Member
Gold
10,586
7,169
Palmerston North
Experience
Hobbyist
When I brought mine the beek said he was caging till the end of march .
Except it is now almost the end of April.

I have thought about this post overnight.
@Wknz
Did you have your smoker working?
Were you wearing a full bee suit? If so, how come you got so many stings.
Were you wearing gloves? If not, then no sympathies.
Or, are the bees just buzzing you? If so, then this is pretty standard bee behaviour for this time of the season.

JMHO
 
  • Like
  • Agree
Reactions: John B and Grant
3,371
6,239
Hawkes Bay
Experience
Commercial
I have no doubt that my hives are more aggressive now than they were 10 years ago but having said that it's still very unusual for me to find a hive that's actually full on nasty like they used to be 40 years ago . I re-queen regularly but mostly on age and I can't remember the last time I had a hive that was so bad I had to re-queen just on aggression. Even quiet hives can be snotty on a bad day and they can also be stirred up by more aggressive neighbours.
Having said all that you don't want nasty hives so I would suggest you re-queen in the spring and in the meantime make sure your smoker is going well and work the hive gently when you have to. There is a certain way of Moving when around beehives that is hard to explain or teach but those that have it can work with most hives without too much drama , even those hives that aren't as nice as they might be.
 
245
156
Christchurch
Experience
Beginner
Except it is now almost the end of April.

I have thought about this post overnight.
@Wknz
Did you have your smoker working?
Were you wearing a full bee suit? If so, how come you got so many stings.
Were you wearing gloves? If not, then no sympathies.
Or, are the bees just buzzing you? If so, then this is pretty standard bee behaviour for this time of the season.

JMHO
Smoker going well.
Full bee suit.
Gloves .. leather gardening for sensitivity as the bee gloves are quite thick and clumsy for delicate work.
Then switched to full leather bee gloves

Trust me .. they werent just buzzing me. A guard bee pinging you is noisy. Multiple bees sitting on your mesh absolutely amped up and trying to make your life a misery is another thing. 8 - 10 Bees swarming your gloves and stinging while standing away from hive. Not buzzing.

Ive had an aggressive hive before that an experienced beek raised their eyebrows at the level of aggressiveness. This one make that look like a picnic in the park.

They are looking to take on people if you are standing closer than 3 meters. They hunted me down around the house even after being inside. Was out of site of the hive and 20 meters away. A friend came around 20 mins later and got agggressed by a bee on the other side if the house. These are ticked off nasty little beggars.


I noted near jan a change in behaviour. Since then it's got worse.
Compared to hive sitting beside it and my other two hives in other location this one is over the top mental.
Weve had more people stung in one fortnight than previous two years with other hives.
 
  • Wow
Reactions: Trevor Gillbanks
245
156
Christchurch
Experience
Beginner
Moving when around beehives that is hard to explain or teach but those that have it can work with most hives without too much drama , even those hives that aren't as nice as they might be.
I hear you. My other hives I open in shorts and tshirt if I'm topping a feeder or similar. I regularly go and say hello to the girls, check for ants, listen to them.

This one I wont walk near. Attacked too many times.

I think it has a wild mated queen. The last one who mated wild in this area was also aggressive @CHCHPaul saw it and agreed it was aggressive. This hive is worse.

I think there is a hive with black backed bees and possibly mine cross mated with them. Two out of two wild makings in my area have produced aggression.
 
  • Like
Reactions: kaihoka
245
156
Christchurch
Experience
Beginner
There is a certain way of Moving when around beehives that is hard to explain or teach but those that have it can work with most hives without too much drama , even those hives that aren't as nice as they might be.
I had reviewed @Trevor Gillbanks video here :

Other than me sneaking in to check sugar in tshirt some times his method is the one I follow. I'm full gear if opening a hive to work it.
 

Mummzie

Staff member
Gold
1,082
957
Tasman
Experience
Hobbyist
@Wknz
do you have the option of moving the hive to another location?
If you are in a built up area, a hive as you describe it will be very unpopular.

You mention a change in January, how old was the original queen? Did you see evidence of a supersedure cell?

IMO your optons are to Execute Grumpy queen. Acquire a mated queen, but bearing in mind the bees you have in that hive now will be the longer lived winter bees, so it will take longer for the new queens progeny to replace the nasty ones.
or
acquire a nuc with a mated queen and merge. The same applies, but you will have a population of gentler bees also
or
Execute grumpy queen, merge with your existing hive and start again in spring.

Whatever you choose to do, treating the varroa is paramount. It could be that that is causing the grumpiness
Other than me sneaking in to check sugar in tshirt some times
? Explain
.
 
124
88
West Coast
Experience
Hobbyist
Smoker going well.
Full bee suit.
Gloves .. leather gardening for sensitivity as the bee gloves are quite thick and clumsy for delicate work.
Then switched to full leather bee gloves

Trust me .. they werent just buzzing me. A guard bee pinging you is noisy. Multiple bees sitting on your mesh absolutely amped up and trying to make your life a misery is another thing. 8 - 10 Bees swarming your gloves and stinging while standing away from hive. Not buzzing.

Ive had an aggressive hive before that an experienced beek raised their eyebrows at the level of aggressiveness. This one make that look like a picnic in the park.

They are looking to take on people if you are standing closer than 3 meters. They hunted me down around the house even after being inside. Was out of site of the hive and 20 meters away. A friend came around 20 mins later and got agggressed by a bee on the other side if the house. These are ticked off nasty little beggars.


I noted near jan a change in behaviour. Since then it's got worse.
Compared to hive sitting beside it and my other two hives in other location this one is over the top mental.
Weve had more people stung in one fortnight than previous two years with other hives.
Who needs guard dog when the beehive will do the same job
 
245
156
Christchurch
Experience
Beginner
Other than me sneaking in to check sugar in tshirt some times
? Explain

The feeding? One if my hives at other location was a rescued swarm. I got them into a hive just as we hit a dearth. On first check two weeks later the queen had laid 5 to 7 frames of solid brood with less than two frames nectar / honey. I was looking at a ton of bees hatching with almost no food. So fed them for a couple of weeks until was satisfied we had nectar flowing again.

They are a lovely, gentle strong hive with smaller bees than my other hives but really really calm.

The queen is a laying machine and theres always been less food than I would expect for hive numbers.

Coming on autumn there were 4-5 frames honey for two well packed boxes of bees. It was only recently I've been comfortable with food levels for winter.

I work in a community shed, near community gardens the hive is in, so sneak across to peek under the lid for feeder levels and numbers. For a peek under the lid of this hive it's not worth a full suit and if they got grumpy I'd just put the cover back in and return suited up. Shorts not ideal as had one go up my leg and get stuck. %} . If working them old suit up

@Mummzie : I'm finishing the apivar strip recommended dosing period and if still an issue will bayvarol them. When I check them in a week or so I'll consider merging them with hive next door or see if I can get a mated queen.

If i merge I'll consider bayvarol there as the apivar hasnt completely knocked down mites in 4weeks of dosing. Still 1.04% mites at check tis weekend.

Thanks for your reply.
There is not doubt from what you are saying that you should buy in a mated queen. But wait until spring. Unless you are confident of finding her and giving her the thumb treatment.
I'll hunt for her in my check in a week or so. Then either merge or introduce mated queen if I can get one.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Mummzie

Mummzie

Staff member
Gold
1,082
957
Tasman
Experience
Hobbyist
the apivar hasnt completely knocked down mites in 4weeks of dosing.
That is an acceptable situation for this stage of the treatment cycle.
The strips do not kill the mites in the brood cells, so if it takes aprox 3 weeks for a full brood cycle, there could still be a few mites running around who got into cells in the early stages of treatment, and are just emerging. This is why the placement of the strips is important. If the strips are near the brood, it maximises their effectiveness. Its also why the strips should stay in place for 2 full brood cycles, and the reason its recommended they get moved with the brood.
well done with the monitoring- it keeps you ahead of the game.
 

kaihoka

Gold
231
197
whanganui inlet
Experience
Hobbyist
I'll hunt for her in my check in a week or so. Then either merge or introduce mated queen if I can get one.
Next time, if there is a next time , you look in the nasty hive take a queen catcher and marker pen with you so you can mark the queen if you see her .
I got queens end of march from blue sky bees in tasman .
They may still cage a queen for you .
 


Top