It’s amazing the way a beehive can have a personality. While the colony is made up of thousands of individual bees, it is the overall collective demeanor of the group that makes it as if you are working with a single organism.
If you have an overly-aggressive hive you can change the behavior of your colony by requeening. Even if you started with a colony of well-tempered bees, each time the queen leaves the hive to mate with wild drones, she is bringing those new genetics back to the hive. The new generation of bees will carry those new genes.
It is believed that most wild bees have some degree of Africanized genetics due to widespread breeding. The time it takes for an egg to develop into a full worker bee is 21 days. So in three weeks, your colony can completely change temperament.If you find yourself with a hive that is too aggressive for your taste, then re-queening is in order.
Below are 10 steps to get a new queen into your aggressive hive. The new queen from a calm hive will lend her less aggressive genetics to your bees and hopefully in about 3 weeks, as the new generation emerges, you should start seeing a change in personality.
Acquire a new queen. You can purchase a new queen, or get one from one of your other hives.
Take extra precautions. This is a time when you want to wear your veil and bee suit. Move slowly and have an escape plan should you need to run.
Smoke the hive.
If possible, depending on your set up and the aggressiveness of the hive, move the problematic hives away from your other hives and away from other residences.
Leave the colony be for around 10 minutes. The bees will be reacting to the smoke and trying to figure out where they’ve been moved to. This will distract them somewhat and make them less interested in what you’re doing.
Find the queen. This may take some time. I suggest that before you go out to the hives that you spend some time online looking at queen photos so you have a good image in your head.
Kill the queen. This can be a bit sad, especially since we, as beekeepers, are always rooting for our queens…worrying that they are happy and healthy.
Put the frames back in the box and move it back to its original location. Or, if you have an especially aggressive hive you can help calm the overall temperament by splitting the hive into smaller nucs and re-queening several. Spreading out the colony should have an immediate effect in toning down aggressive behavior.
Introduce the new queen in the cage between two brood frames. Close up the hive and move it back to its original location.
In a week, check the hive for queen acceptance.
To learn more about the temperament of honeybees visit my posts:
To get away from a hot hive, jump into a vehicle with the air conditioner running. In a few seconds, the bees will fly to the windows to try to escape. Lower the windows about an inch and in short order the vehicle will be cleared of bees. I discovered this trick last summer while working an outlying apiary and finding myself in big trouble.
do you put the new queen in the hive right away?
will they make queen cells anyway and kill the new queen?
I have one hive of super aggressive bees. My hives are top bar hives and it is very difficult to find the queen, especially when the bees are so aggressive, stinging me through my suit!! Do I have to find and kill the queen before requeening or can I just put a new queen in and hope for the best?
I’m Kelly .I. in Alpine California. I have a hot hive .The university of California at LA Jolla said 95%of all feral hives in San Diego are Americanized So I called them up I asked if I could bring the some bees in a jar to have them Identfied and they told me that they don’t have the equipment to do that ! I said you guys made the statement we have Americanized honney bees in San Diego ! I’m 3 miles away from Harbison canyon we have JS Harbison honney bees here .witch is common black bees with pure Italion queens .so I want to do the same thing .Introduce pure Italion queens to my hot hive with a split too .I’m thinking of two nuculus boxes with a two queen excluders with common suppers .A two queen hive .maybe get higher productivity .I need pure Italion queens Do you have any you can send me ? Kels
Good info on queening.
Just wondering,I’ve heard it said to leave a hive overnight or at least several hours before introducing a new queen. I notice the whole process was done in the same visit. The reason I’m asking is that i attempted to requeen one of my hives in January within hours of removing the old queen to a split. At day 6 I checked and the queen wa out of the cage. I checked agin at day 14 and there were three queen cells in the hive and no sign of the marked queen I’d paid for. The bees went on to rise their own queen so they must have preferred the p genetics of their own queen. What are your thoughts? Shayne Starkey