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I'm posting this on behalf of another gal who is having some trouble with her bee's:

Last Spring I purchased a top bar hive, the clothes and bees and all went well for about 3 months.
I could walk out into the field and feed the bees without suiting up. I often sat by the entrance to watch them fly in and out and was unnoticed.

In early June the bees began finding my presence alarming, and feeding them became a challenge. Finally, they and began attacking me when I went to feed them. My head and face swelled to the point that I could see my own cheeks. Each subsequent attempt to feed them has had the same result.

I suited up last week -- after 3 month absence and they attacked me again, persistently stinging the mesh on the bonnet.

My feeding technique consists of removing the empty bottle, placing it gently right-side up, and brushing the bees away from the feeding station to avoid smashing them, and replacing the bottle quickly. Then I wait for the bees to abandon the empty bottle before I move it. I don't wear any perfume, the dogs are not with me, I do not make any quick movements. Why are they attacking me?

I have a friend beekeeper, who now has 5 hives, who can work my bees without smoke or a suit -- the same as I was able to do initially. I abandoned idea of getting 2 more hives this year.

Do you have any ideas on what has happened? Can anything be done? Would anything change if I washed the suit? -- and, bty, with what and how would I do that with the bonnet attached?

I am mystified how I have been transformed from a benign presence to a threat for my bees?

Any suggestions or comments will be welcomed.
One other addon is in her beginners beekeeping class she was the only one stung and it was also on the face. We've gone over all the different things I can think of like perfumes, soaps, lotions, etc...

The bees are also a package from a local to her beek and not from a swarm.
 

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A few thoughts:

My quess is that the hive requeened itself, and the new queen is producing more aggressive bees. Simple solution: requeen. Don't tolerate nasty bees.

I also recommend wearing a veil. Get a simple alexander veil or something you can slip on easily when you just go out to feed. Stings on the face are no fun at all.

Yes, wash the suit. Wash off all the alarm pheromone from past stings.

Consider also that the attitude of a hive often changes with the seasons. In the spring - when populations are lower and lots of things are blooming - bees tend to be much more gentle than in mid-to-late-summer when there's been a drought and you have lots of bored bees. I've seen very gentle hives become very irritiable during a dearth and then return to being gentle after the weather changes.
 

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Where is the lady from? Without knowing that, I'll keep it general.....

While smaller hives, including nucs, are much more mild than full size hives, as hives age and get stronger, things change. I can work five frame nucs almost all summer long and see almost no stings. I simply can not do that without protection in my full size honey and pollination yards.

Time of the year effects attitude of the bees as indy mentioned. Working bees in April and May if very different than working them in July and August. If they are working a flow, they are happy and easy to work.

Don't wear perfume, body lotions, etc. Smell alone can make a difference.

Don't dig in a garden before opening up a hive as the smell of fresh dug dirt will make them think a threat is nearby. All enemies of bees dig....skunks, bears, raccoons, etc. And if a skunk is bothering the hives at night, they will take it out on you during the day.

Technique on how you pull frames, inspect, move, all play into it also.

I really hate to be negative about this.....but I think many are misinformed or sold a bill of sale by many who portray bees as some domestic "pet" with no threat to a perceived predator (You!). We make presentations to township and towns telling them how "safe" bees are, that they do not attack without a reason, and go as far as showing them how close we can stand and watch the bees. We tell people all the time about how they should get into bees and how docile they are.

But lets not fool anyone. Bees will protect their home and just as you do not want them to allow SHB, wax moths, yellowjackets, or anything else in the hive. I don't think anyone should expect to work the bees without smoke, protection, etc. Certainly working bees without smoke and a veil is nice. But that is the exception, and normally is due to circumstances that you can not control. To maintain hives with 40,000 to 60,000 bees....one should expect to use smoke and some protection.

To be unhappy with your hive, or to requeen, due to your inability to work hives without smoke or protection, is a bit misguided. You may not want to hear that, but that is based in reality. Bees are bees. And having one sting you for opening up a hive without smoke is much more the norm, than expecting it the other way.
 

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If she is the only one being attacked and her friend can work her bees without incident, it is obviously something. . .probably an odor. . .that is putting the bees on the offensive. I had purchased a pair of gloves that my girls just hated. They would attack those gloves with such vigor I could feel the vibrations! Sounds to me that it is the veil that they find offensive since they are stinging the veil. Problem is, I washed those gloves several times to no avail. Finally threw the out and got new ones.
 

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Re: Re:

dogsoldier13 said:
Charles said:
Thanks for all the reply's, I'll let her know and hopefully post back with good news.
maybe the smoker fuel is it? or maybe she isnt smoking them at all?

I read it that she was not smoking. Or at least she did not to start, and expects to continue to not smoke as her friend.
 
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