Thursday, June 15, 2017

Swarming and Very Aggressive Honeybees

My past two hive checks have been rather interesting.
Five of my colonies are doing fantastic and two are not doing so well at this time.
I have one Buckfast colony with a queen that wasn't laying many eggs, her pattern was "spotty" and the population is not nearly as high as my successful colonies. Another sign of problems was the number of supersedure cells in the pupa stage of development. I eliminated all but one swarm cell and smashed the queen. Now a single swarm cell is developing and I hope to have a new queen hatch out and breed with local drones. Remember, queens are only fertile in the first few days of their lives and they must mate with around 21 drones to get enough fertilization to lay up to 2,000 eggs per day for up to 7 years - now that's some very busy days for our queens!

Another extremely aggressive, Italian colony in the same location as the struggling Buckfast has no evidence of a queen. Once again, there are about 10 swarm cells and I removed all but one so they can hatch out a new queen. I hope to find a new, beautiful, unmarked queen in both of these colonies during my next hive checks. which will be in 9 days.

I cannot stress enough how important full hive check are every 10 days, especially during the month of June since it is the largest swarming month! Before destroying every swarm cell, I always ensure I have a queen and be looking for all stages of brood regardless of whether I actually find her during each check or not. Please contact me if you want me to complete a hive check with you. My fee is $40 for this years beekeeping students and $60 for anyone else.

This year I have heard reports and personally experienced more aggressive bees. Out of 7 colonies, two of my Italians are extremely mean. If I didn't have a bee suit on I would get thousands of stings upon first opening my hives. This is unusual and can be a very dangerous situation. I will not check my hives without a full bee suit. Take the suggestion, folks! I have been stung more this year than in any other year and these stings are right through my bee suit.

Supers can be added anytime in the next two weeks. I do not use a queen excluder because it slows the bees down during the honey flow when they have to squeeze through the excluder to store honey. With new equipment, the bees often fill the excluder with wax and create a ceiling between the brood and the honey supers. How can that be efficient?


  1. We've also noticed aggressive bees this year (granted, this is only year 2 for us). Otherwise, they are doing awesome and stocking up on honey! Thanks for the updates - I check this to make sure we are on schedule. The last post with the ants happened right when we had ants at our hive. I used your cinnamon trick and fixed that problem. Thanks! Kyndall

  2. I'm happy to know my posts are being read and the information is helpful. Thank you, Kyndall!