Sunday, September 9, 2012

Angry Bees

I suppose it had to happen some time. Today I was stung by several of my bees.

After one of the other hives swarmed on Tuesday, we thought we better check on all the others and see if they were about to do the same. Today was warm and still, so a good chance to open mine and see what the bees were up to.

Top super - bees busy cleaning up the frames, and building comb. Looking good.

Middle super - lots of honey and brood. Very healthy looking.

Unfortunately there was evidence that the bees were going to swarm; quite a lot of queen cells. That's what the blobby, lumpy thing is in this picture:
There were queen cells in the middle and bottom supers. We removed the ones we found. As we got further down into the hive, the bees became angrier and angrier. They were attacking in force, although I wasn't worried until a couple got inside my suit. One stung me on the nose, and another on the ear. The one on my nose was the worst, and hurt for a few hours.

The bees kept attacking even after the hive was reassembled and we moved to the front yard. In fact more kept arriving to keep up the attack. I was stung another four or so times through my suit, although there were many, many stings that were stuck in the suit and didn't make it through to my skin.

Lessons learnt today:
1. Always, always do up the zips on a bee suit in the mirror, to ensure they are really correctly closed and there are no gaps!
2. The smell (?) of squashed bees attracts other bees, who then attack.
3. If under attack, don't hang around outside trying to get all the bees off yourself. It is a hopeless situation. Retreat inside and deal with the handful that come in with you (a vacuum cleaner helps).
And maybe:
4. If the bees want to swarm, let them. A cloud of angry, attacking bees is a lot worse than a swarm who just want to be on their way.


  1. Ouch! A painful way to learn your beekeeping lessons.

  2. Ouch my Dad kept bees and at some stage was stung so often that he had to carry injections in case of reactions. Be careful.Nice photos of the hive.

  3. You poor thing! ONE bee sting hurtds like hell... can't imagine multiples.

  4. Multiple ouches but my mind did wander to your neighbours and wondered if any went their way. Rather than a simple smell as such i could suggest that as the bees die they might release pheromones which attract their mates, a hormonal scent with an X-factor embedded in it, like a testosterone type substance.
    Hope you're ok and don't develop an allergy.

  5. I agree, it is probably something more complex than just the smell of squashed bees. I think it may have something to do with when they fire off their stings. There are probably pheromones released then that attract other bees in the area to join the attack.