Defensive, Aggressive or maybe F2 aggression?

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    • #3205
      Gary T

      I have 3 hives in my garden in Banbury.

      Two are quite calm, little smoke needed on inspections.

      The third has turned into the hive-from-hell. At an inspection yesterday getting the supers off was OK but within seconds of removing the QE and starting to lift frames I had 4 bees stinging my right hand and it was constant stinging into the gloves after that. In the end I retired, put on a second pair of marigolds and just closed up to a constant battering of my hands, veil, all over really. And even when closed up they continued to harass me whilst inspecting the hive next to them.

      This hive ‘went’ queenless earlier in the year. Despite doing a split they swarmed, I inspected and removed, it turned out, all the queen cells and there I presume there no suitable lavae left for them to draw a queen from. However I’d put the removed queen cells in my wax box and a week later we found a queen wondering about in the box so I caught her and introduced her back into the hive. A subsequent inspection after a suitable time showed brood so she had been accepted and mated.

      The bees were very calm earlier this year (hence the inspection above), then they became ‘grumpy’ (according to my hive records) and now……..

      Last week I thought they were just being defensive as it was cloudy and windy. Yesterday was a bit windy but the sun was in and out and there were no problems with the other 2 hives. But they were not just ‘pinging’ me; they immediately starting stinging me. This feels like aggression. I’ve been reading about ‘F2 aggression’ and wondered if this is what I’m experiencing.

      But whether the cause of the aggression is F2 or something(?) else what are the options – leave them alone until next spring and cull the queen or double-glove, put on thick trousers and a jumper under the bee suit and try to find the queen and cull her now?

      Being on an estate with neighbours on all sides of the garden I can’t afford for the bees to take their aggression beyond the garden.

    • #3235
      Gary T

      Following on from the overwhelming (!?!) response to my post I thought I’d update with, er, an update.

      I carried out a hive inspection exactly a week later. Learnign my lesson about angry bees continuing to follow me I inspected my other 2 hives first. They were both very calm, a bit of smoke in the entrance at the start  as nromal but after that I didn’t need any more to complete either inspection.

      On the the ‘aggressive/defensive’ hive. I put on a second pair of marigolds just in case. Getting the supers off was OK, ditto removing the queen excluder. Now for the bit that really seemed to get them going last time, removing brood frames to inspect.

      They were fine! Puffs of smoke needed to clear them from the ends of the frames and that was it. A few bees buzzing around my head and one trying to have a go through the mesh but that was it. So perhaps last time they were, for soem reason, being very (very) defensive. But I was mightly relieved that they were not aggressive. As I mentioned I’m in the middle of an estate with the gardens of other houses on 3 sides of the garden so I cannot afford for the bees to become truely agressive.

      But, ahem, they did sting my wife on the hand. She was taking pictures as I was doing the inspection and they clearly don’t like the paraparrazi!

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