Bees Behaving Badly

May 2, 2005

Ow! Ow, ow, OW! The girls were aggro today. I was out turning the garden (tomatoes, strawberries and zucchini is the crop planned for this year), near the hives, granted, but not actually in their flight path, and they kept coming at me. Not just a quick warning buzz, either, but a full on attack. Bees in my hair, buzzing around my head, bonking into my face. Most odd, they even chased me around to the front of the house. Usually, they’ll just nudge you enough to let you know it’s time to move on, and leave you alone once you give them some distance, but not today.

Then, as if that weren’t enough, I got stung on my ear when I wasn’t even anywhere near the hives. I’m just sitting there on my back deck, talking about how aggro they’re being, and zap bam OUCH! I got stung on my ear. Now the right side of my head looks like Prince Charles, all Dumbo’ed out.

I’m not sure why they’re being so aggressive. It could be the time of year, it could be that I added a box of bees last week and that left them agitated, it could be that the new bees are just bitchier.

Well, I gave up on trying to turn the garden bed (I’ll do it by floodlight at night some time this week), but I did suit up and check the hives. Hive 1, the more aggressive one, is thriving. I was a bit worried because I didn’t find any brood at all in the bottom brood chambers (which would mean there wasn’t a fertile queen in the house), but on second inspection, I found a bunch of freshly laid brood in an upper chamber. I missed it the first time around because it was brand new. In the first few days, it looks like tiny grain of rice, smaller than a poppyseed, right in the middle of the cell. It made sense that it was in the upper chamber, because that’s where I left the queen.

I had actually intended to take out the uppermost chamber, because I put it in kind of by accident. Usually you only have two brood chambers and the rest are honey supers. They all look the same, boxes with frames in them, but the brood chambers are taller. The honey supers are shorter so they’re easier to move around when they’re filled with delicious, sweet honey.

In any case, I couldn’t take it out because it had brood in it, so now I have three brood chambers and I’m not quite sure what to do about. Advice, anyone?

Hive 2 also looked good. Nice solid laying pattern, and they’re making headway on their first honey super. Hive 1 had gone through all the sugar syrup I had left them, but Hive 2 had only gone through about half of it, so I gave the three leftover jars I had to Hive 1.

Oh, and I got stung. Again. Through my pants.


Related Articles

I’m excited to try a new experiment this year: top-bar beekeeping! In traditional “Langstroth” hives (or at least, traditional since the mid-1800’s), rectangular frames are placed into rectangular boxes, and the bees build their comb …

March 28, 2011

Based on comments from Rusty and some that I received through Facebook, I think the verdict on the Bee Kill question is clear: the girls found something they shouldn’t have. Rusty left this comment: The …

December 7, 2010

What do you get when you combine two hives of very active, healthy bees with one very active, healthy two-year-old boy? Nah, it’s not the set-up for a joke, just a setup for about a …

November 21, 2010