Hello BYBA Beekeepers
We are now into the full swing of Summer in our apiaries. And it’s been very hot outside.
So what are you seeing? Lots of activity?…substantial brood, pollen, and honey being packed away in cells? Swarms, robbing, unusual behavior, aggressive or docile? For most of us, we are seeing a little bit of everything.
This brings me to a particular experience many of us are familiar with. A “hot hive”.
So what is a “hot hive”? In my opinion, it’s any hive that is particularly aggressive. And not just on one isolated day, but on continuous days. It is a hive where bees show aggressive behavior over and over again. They may be on you as you approach from 10 or so feet away. Typically you will have numerous bees darting around your head and face area. En masse they burst out at you even when you are using a smoker. They are relentless and many will follow you for 100 feet or more. You can hear the elevated agitated noise level when you open the hive. And they are ready to sting, and they do so.
There are many ways you can deal with them, but ultimately you will likely requeen the hive.
On a recent visit to one such hive, I chose to do several things to manage this “hot hive”. I decided to split the hive, remove the queen, and replace her in one of the splits and place another queen in the other split.
Replacing a queen will not alter the behavior immediately as it will take several weeks before the new brood from the new queen begins to emerge. The existing bees will still have the genetic behavior from before you replaced her. And those bees will start to die off as their life span is limited during the Summer foraging months.
Splitting also allowed me to move one of the splits off-site. This meant I had half the amount of bees remaining, which for me, also meant half the behavior issues. So although this was not an instant fix, it was one that had some immediate results ( a smaller population of bees) and would in a matter of weeks, resolve the big issue as the older bees would die off and a new population with different genetics from the new queen would emerge.
Beekeeping always presents us with issues, which challenge us to think and respond. And it rewards us with new knowledge, a sense of accomplishment and a great feeling of helping the environment and our world. To all of you beekeepers, I am grateful they we are all a part of this wonderful community.
Please remember to reach out to your board, your mentor, or your fellow beekeepers whenever you have a question about your honeybees, and we will assuredly assist you wherever possible.
I look forward to seeing you all soon!
Enjoy your Summer of beekeeping!