Your questions answered
This is the page that will help you with your beekeeping! Send in your questions to Melissa Bee at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will answer on this page! Got a problem? Why not share it? See what other people do! Make yourself a better beekeeper!
Josh (9) of Bideford asks:
Why are my bees so bad tempered?
There are lots of different reasons, Josh. Read through the possibilities listed below and see if any apply to your bees.
The time of year
Colonies usually start off quite gentle in Spring. As the months pass, the colony grows in size (more bees for you to deal with!) and the bees become more protective of their honey stores. They may be especially bad tempered after you have removed some of their precious honey!
What you do – avoid:
- Clumsy handling of the bees during inspections. Make sure you don’t bang the hive or squash bees! Be gentle!
- Using too much smoke.
- Opening the hive too often. Never inspect more than once a week.
- Dirty bee suit or gloves. If your clothes have the remains of bee stings on them, there will be alarm pheromones there and this will annoy the bees.
- Perfumes on you! Bees often react badly to perfumes, strong soap smells or after shave. They also dislike the smell of dark blue cotton clothing!
In the apiary
Is your colony under attack from wasps?
Using a noisy lawnmower or strimmer near the hive. Bees hate loud noise and vibration!
In the hive
The queen may have been superseded. Your old queen may have been replaced, and the new one is producing more aggressive bees. If this happens, order a marked and mated queen from your supplier to replace the queen that is now in your hive.
The bees may be queenless. Have you seen the queen, or eggs, recently?
A question from Sylvie (10) of Northampton –
How do I know if my colony has swarmed?
If you can see all of the following, then it is likely your colony has swarmed:
- no eggs,
- not so many bees,
- no eggs or young larvae – all the cells have only older larvae and/or capped brood.
- There’ll also be queen cells, with at least one full size (like a peanut shell) with a hole at the bottom tip.
N.B. In future, make sure you inspect your colony weekly between late April and early July, that way you will see queen cells, know that your bees are planning on swarming and can do something about it!