Bees aggressiveness: Causes and solutions

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Bees aggressiveness: Causes and solutions

The aggressiveness of bees can make beekeeping very unpleasant to the point that the beekeeper stops his passion. In this article, I suggest that you determine the causes of aggressiveness and consider how to fix it. There are indeed solutions to reduce the aggressive nature of bees in the apiary.

The causes of bee aggressiveness

We must distinguish between temporary causes and genetic causes.

Temporary causes

They are of several kinds.

Meteorological

In hot weather, bees are often nastier. It is the same with stormy weather.

During some honeydews

Between spring honeydew and summer honeydew, there is in my region a period without large flowering, which is interesting for bees: this is called the honey hole which corresponds to the flowering of elderberry which does not is not visited by bees. At this time, there are many forager which are inactive due to the lack of flowering. This results in greater aggressiveness due to the famine. Chestnut honey is also known to cause aggression.

No queen

After a swarming or in general when the hive is orphan, the bees are often more nervous. This is noticeable as soon as the hive is opened. The queen's pheromones that keep the colony together are absent. Foragers are often less active and it is they who are the most aggressive. You are therefore more likely to be stung by an orphan hive even if you are not visiting it.

External disturbances

It also happens that vibrations linked to major works or the proximity of a road disturb the bees. Repeated knocks on beehives or even on beehive stand can also cause it.

Repeated visits

Let us also avoid disturbing the bees unnecessarily. Each visit must be justified to avoid disturbing the colonies. During the swarming period, the number of visits will increase a little but must remain reasonable. Too many visits also reduces the productivity of bees.

Perfumes

Bees are very sensitive to odors. They hate any new scent in their environment. Some odors are unpleasant to them. It is better to know this and avoid them at the apiary.

Colors and textures

Bees also react to colors and textures in clothing. When you visit the apiary, choose light colors and avoid colors that are too showy. Also choose materials that do not catch the bees' legs: cotton and linen are perfect. Avoid the wool in which the legs of the bees will cling which will push them to sting. Bees are also easily caught in long hair.

Genetic causes

It also happens that bees are aggressive because of their genetic background. Especially with hybrid bees. One of the faults of buckfast is that it has bees that lose their sweetness from F2 if they are hybridized with other breeds. This phenomenon is not unique to buckfast, however, and can occur with other breed mixes.

Reproduction of the queen is rarely controlled. Indeed several males will fertilize the queen and this most often without the control of the beekeeper. It is only in the event of insemination or fertilization on an island that the control of males is possible.
At this stage, it is important to know that the character of aggression is carried by males. It will be necessary to remember this because when looking for solutions, a simple remembrance is not sufficient because the males will always be present.

What to do in case of aggressiveness?

Temporary causes

For temporary causes, the solutions are simple.

Either it is a cause that can be eliminated such as perfume or the color of clothes. With a little common sense and discipline, the aggressiveness will decrease.

Regarding external causes, we must act.

  • Manage the colony in the event of an orphan hive
  • Eliminate shocks on beehives and supports. If the cause is a road, consider relocating the apiary.
  • If the number of visits is too high, space them out. A visit every ten days in high season and every seven or eight days during the swarming period. Prepare your visits to be efficient and as short as possible. There is also a way to reduce visits by observing movement at the hive's flight hole to determine what is going on inside.
For meteorological causes, you just have to wait. In case of stormy weather, remember to postpone the visit, also during the honeydew. Also avoid opening a beehive when it rains, even in a covered apiary, as foragers will be present.

Genetic causes

When a colony becomes permanently aggressive, the genetic cause must be considered. As a reminder, the discomfort of aggression is transmitted by drones. There is no point in simply removing the queen from an aggressive hive because the descendants of the queen will have the same genes and moreover the males will continue to impregnate queens which in turn will give rise to aggressive workers.

The solution is therefore to remove the queen and give the colony either a new queen already fertilized, or a royal cell from another hive, or an open frame also from another colony.

When attempting to remediate the colony by one of the three options mentioned above, you must first make sure that the colony can no longer build a royal cell on its own brood. So after removing the old queen, you have to destroy all the queen cells that will be produced, then after eight days, check that there are no more new queen cells and only then introduce a fertilized queen or a royal cell or open brood frame.

Do not forget that if you have an aggressive colony and you don't act, this unpleasant character will be transmitted to the whole apiary and to neighboring apiaries. It is in your best interest to eliminate aggression as soon as possible.

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