Master Beekeeper Still Learning

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Tia, May 30, 2010.

  1. Tia

    Tia New Member

    Messages:
    379
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I killed my chickens! As you all may or may not know, in an effort to deal with small hive beetle, my chickens live peaceably with my bees, all fenced in by chain link fence in a run 9 X 50. Up until today, that is.
    On Inspection yesterday, I found a laying worker hive. I've done this before and, although it's a drag, I wasn't worried about it. Had it all planned out how I was going to do it. . .I would remove the hive down to the bottom board and immediately replace it with a box of comb, so that returning foragers would find their home when they got there (last time I did this, there was a pile of bees waiting for me to get back with the box!), then I would take the hive over to the other lot (500 ft away) to remove the bees so that the girls--all except the laying workers--would fly back home. Tonight I'd close up the entrance and then tomorrow, I would do a paper combine of these bees with another colony (a recent split) that has a good laying queen but is small in number (about 15,000). Sounds logical, no?
    Now to the meat of the matter. . .I did not smoke them because (1) I didn't smoke them last time and all went well, rationale being if you smoke them, they go into the honey cells and start gorging and it's difficult to get them out, and (2) I was moving the entire hive except for the bottom board, and wouldn't be disturbing them to any extend. Boy, was I wrong! The bees went into a frenzy and pelted me all the way to the other side of the property. :eek: I decided to go back and get my smoker before evicting them. When I got back to the apiary, I saw chickens laying all over the place and others running in a frenzy. They were covered with bees all over their eyes and wattles! :shock: I retrieved all of them, tossing them in the coop and closing the door. Once they were all in, I went into the coop--which, of course by now was also full of bees--and started retrieving chickens, three at a time, and carrying them to my garden shed. Once they were all in the shed, I went back out to open all the doors on the coop so the bees would leave and I noticed that all of the hives were in turmoil!!! That colony must have thrown out some pretty strong alarm pheromone!
    So now the chickens are in the garden shed. Three of the eight have died so far and I have one questionable. The other four look okay. . .so far. . .maybe the venom's just taking a little longer on them; I don't know. I removed as many stingers as I could. . .it's not easy. . .but I really wanted to get the stingers out and away from their eyes especially! I feel like a murderer. :cry:
    So, lessons learned: (1) next time, SMOKE!! and (2) from now on, put the chickens in the coop before working the bees *I never have before and there's never been a problem, but. . .).
     
  2. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    So, what's the source of the title, master beekeeper? EAS?
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

    Messages:
    8,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Rule #1... Smoke

    Rule #2...Smoke

    Rule #3,,, Smoke

    Rule #4.., work bees after smoking.

    Next time, move hive, after smoking, bottom board and all. Place queen right nuc in it's place. Then shake out bees and let them return to the nuc.
     
  4. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Rule #5... don't confine pets or livestock in a pen w/ bee hives.

    A couple of years ago, in NC I believe, a horse, a tethered goat and some chickens died from multiple stings from a beehive close by.
     
  5. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

    Messages:
    8,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Could you find a link to that. The state says there has never been a confirmed hive of AHB in NC. I think it would have to be AHB to do that much damage.
     
  6. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    No, just a recollection. I assume you mean AHB, not AFB. My memory is that that was the assumption, that they were or had to be AHBs, but they weren't.

    Jerry Hayes, in FL, could probably tell you plenty of AHB stinging stories, but he'd rather not.

    My point is that livestock should be able to get away from a defensive hive, which obviously they couldn't do if confined or tethered.
     
  7. Tia

    Tia New Member

    Messages:
    379
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My replies don't seem to be posting and I don't know why
    Iddee, I misspoke. I did move the whole hive, bottom board and all. I've done it and a lot of other things (install hive top feeders/ventilators, supers, clean & fill the west beetle traps, etc) without smoking and without incident. I guess I wont do that anymore thought. Lesson learned.
    As for a nuc, I don't trust "outside queens" so I would rather build up my weak hive by way of a paper combine.
    sqkcrk, it's too late now. I spent a fortune on the setup and there hasn't been an incident in all this time until now. They've been together since January and I've done several inspections since then. I will, however, be keeping the chickens cooped up from now on when I'm working with the bees!
    NC State Beekeepers have certified me as a Master Beekeeper.
    Iddee, I don't know who you were speaking to when you asked for a link but the inference is that maybe these are AHB. I doubt that very much. I was in them yesterday when I established they had laying workers and although they were feisty, they weren't this feisty! About a week or two ago, however, I worked with some newbees on their hives and I really am questioning whether they might be AHB. As we went through the hive they constantly pelted us and afterward followed me 500 yards back to my car where I stood motionless for 1/2 hr before they left.
     
  8. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

    Messages:
    1,322
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The only way I have ever gotten in truoble with my bees, is when I have to mow in front of the colonies, I am able to use a fence and divert thier flight over the yard at about a 7 ft level, but immediately infront of the hive, direct interference with thier line of flight, they will take me to task, as I am sure you all know, if the bees have a longer flight plain in front of the colony, they will claim it for themselves, easier to fly at lower levels, then go up into stronger winds aloft. in any event never over 150 yards infront of the bees and 30 minutes thats very long for non AHB the execption is if you really fired them up, and they really were working you over, gloves, suit, lots of alarm pheremone. collect samples, perhaps your being sent partially hybredized AHB.
     
  9. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

    Messages:
    1,322
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    P.S.
    I always used smoke, but under normal circumstances, moderate amounts of smoke is all needed, AHB require volumes of smoke that would stupify european bees.
     
  10. Tia

    Tia New Member

    Messages:
    379
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Well, Barry42001, that's the thing. Come to think of it, I mowed all around my hive just yesterday and then did some weeding in the vegetable garden directly in front of the apiary and they didn't give me one minute's trouble, so I guess that dispels the thought that they're Africanized.
     
  11. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

    Messages:
    1,322
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Not really, as I said the potential for AHB bees entering into our managed colonies are very high, because of natural breeding programs, that allows AHB drones to intercept our queens, and get first dibs for breeding rights. Only instrumental insemination avoids that real potential. AFB apparently, when first establishing thier colonies, are behaving like our bees, almosy quiet, but once really well established, and having something to protect, thier demeanor changes and ultra defensivness traits becomes apparent
     
  12. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

    Messages:
    8,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yes, Sqkcrk, I meant AHB. I have edited the post. I think Jerry considers all Fla. bees to be AHB, and recommends killing any that are not in hives. Him and I have had words about that in the past.

    Tia, my post was for Sqkcrk only. It was not directed at you at all. The queenlessness and the lack of smoke was enough to provoke them.
     
  13. Tia

    Tia New Member

    Messages:
    379
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Iddee, I didn't think it was directed at me, but I wanted to make clear that these girls are definitely not AHB. All my girls have been very gentle anytime I've gone into the hives. Maybe yesterday's mowing rattled them more than I thought and they were still cranky this morning. . .and on top of being queenless. . .I should've known. But I've always had very good 20/20 hindsight!
     
  14. beehandler

    beehandler New Member

    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Tia, sorry 'bout your troubles and woes, however, on the bright side.............. with it being the memorial holiday, i can think of nothing finer than a big ol' plate of fried chicken !!!!!!
     
  15. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    the more a hive tends toward a queenless state the more hostile you should expect a hive to become. when the spring flow stops the degree of defensive/aggressive behavior will increase substantially.

    add the two variable together and you likely have behavior that approaches that of the africanized honeybee.

    I have seen (one example) of a similar incident here. The bee lab would later inform me the bees were european in origin.

    since genetic material from africanized bees was distributed across the us of a in the 1960 and since (we now know via genetics) that the european honey bee originated out of africa... if you had no african genetic material in you hive your bees would be extremely unusual.
     
  16. Tia

    Tia New Member

    Messages:
    379
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    tecumseh, good to hear from you. . .thanks for your very intelligent (of course) input. Update: 7:30 this morning I cleared the boxes of bees. . .of course, most hadn't left because of all the brood in the boxes. The bees seemed pretty demoralized and not much in the mood for fighting with me. The frames are now in the freezer to kill all those drone cells. I will use the frames for all the honey and pollen in them.
    I'm taking a break until 10:30 (an hour from now) at which time I'm going to paper combine these bees with the weak hive. I would rather wait until tomorrow so I could close them in tonight and know that I'm moving all the bees, but tomorrow is a very busy day for me and I will have no time for bees. Besides, I want to get all this stuff out of the way for the sake of the chickens. I am keeping them cooped today and probably tomorrow. . .they're still pretty groggy from the ordeal. By then I'm hoping everyone will have calmed down.
     
  17. Tia

    Tia New Member

    Messages:
    379
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Well, went out to do the paper combine and. . .the box was empty! They left! They were there at 6:30 this morning, but they left! Fine by me. Wasn't looking forward to a paper combine. So instead I put top hive ventilators on all the hives. The girls have been hanging out on the front porch. . .not bearding but pretty much covering the bottom board. . .so hopefully this will help cool them down. Thank God this is the end of my latest adventure.
     
  18. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have found that robber screens (I originally got the idea from Iddee... sometimes it takes an old dog to teach an old dog a new trick????) permanently installed at the front entrance of a robust hive limits a hive's defensive nature. I think the why of this is a hive is less nervous about anything that passes by the front door. I have them install on almost everything here around the house and on all my 5 frame nucs.

    this small idea has really saved me a potentially enormous amount of problems.
     
  19. Tia

    Tia New Member

    Messages:
    379
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Tecumseh, this is an amazingly great idea (Iddee's got some great stuff stored in that head of his, doesn't he?). I have lots of front doors that could easily be converted to robber screens! This is my next job in the beeyard. Thanks!
     
  20. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    you are indeed welcome. it is an inexpensive simple remedy that pays me dividend every day.