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Friday, February 17, 2017

Post #65: How to make an angry beehive, Part I


As I talk to my friends about my bees, they are always amazed at how gentle my bees are.  They look in awe as I tell them I mow close around the hives and use the gas powered weed eater to trim grass around the hives that the lawn mower can’t reach.

One fellow beekeeper came out to help me do a hive inspection several weeks ago.  One of the Guard Bees took it on herself to greet him as we walked out to the hive, stinging him on the leg.  Nevertheless, he commented on how gentle my bees were.  Once we started the inspection, the bees largely ignored us as we went through the hives, frame by frame.

“What is wrong with my bees?” I wondered.  “Why can’t they be aggressive like everyone else’s bees?”

It took a lot of thought, but I finally came up with a formula to help my bees get a bit more aggressive.

I wanted to do a Mid-Summer kill of the Varroa Mites that might be infesting my hives.  I did a 24 hour check on both hives, using clean soapy water in the Freeman Traps below each hive.

My strongest hive had 16 mites in the tray.  The weaker hive had only 6.  So, I decided to treat for the mites using an Oxalic Acid Vaporizing treatment (OAV).

Here is my first step in turning my bees into aggressive bees.

From my readings on the internet, I knew I didn’t want any of the supers with honey to get the treatment, because it might ruin the honey for human consumption.  To get the bees out of the supers, and keep them all in the brood nest, I installed a bee gate.  The bees could leave, but they could not get back in.  I inserted this gate between the two large hive boxes.  Brood on the bottom, honey on the top.  I did this first thing in the morning.

I did this on the hottest day of the year.  It climbed to 100 degrees that day.  It must have been awfully uncomfortable for all those bees to be confined into one box.

Here is my second step in turning my bees into aggressive bees.

When I separated the two deep boxes to insert the bee gate, I broke some honey bearing comb loose.  The bees had started building comb between the two boxes and filled it with honey.

I scraped the honey soaked comb off of the top bars of the brood chamber, and put it on top of the inner cover of the hive.  The bees could go up to that space, pull the honey out of the comb, and install it in the proper comb on their way down, before they left through the bee gate.

With fewer bees in the upper boxes, and the scent of fresh honey in the air, the local ants found their way up into the box with the honey, and began feasting and stealing the honey.  I didn’t realize this until late in the afternoon.

I frantically renewed the diatomaceous earth around the hives and then spread Amdro ant bait.  I was relieved when I checked on the hive a bit later to find that the ants were no longer streaming into the hive.  There were ants crawling around dragging large hunks of Amdro, so there was hope the ants would soon be gone.
Bees were beginning to get a bit agitated with me.  But I hadn't made them truly angry ...
.... yet!