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Thread: aggressive colony

  1. #1

    Default aggressive colony

    Hi all,

    Could I get some advice on requeening an aggressive colony please. The colony we'd like to change is bad tempered and guard bees will follow us for some distance and time after the hive has been closed back up. I'm new to beekeeping but can rule out beginners handling because our other colony is much more mild mannered.

    I'd like to requeen the problem colony and would love some advice on the best course of action please.

    There are eggless queen cups in both hives. Could I try and graft a young larvae from the mild colony into a queen cup in the problem colony and kill the problem colony's queen or should I wait for a queen cell to appear in the mild mannered hive and transfer that to the problem colony?

    Any help much appreciated.

  2. #2


    (thinking about it, is the only real option getting a mated queen from someone else as a new queen of my making may well mate with bad tempered drones keeping the colony unchanged?)
    Last edited by wheresthedog; 14-05-2016 at 05:06 PM.

  3. #3


    Hi wheresthedog

    I am going to guess that if the bees are all bad then the fault lies with the queen
    So if you raise a queen from her there is a fair chance it will produce ill tempered bees as well
    Drones are a bit of a lottery and unless you are in a very isolated spot you cant influence them
    The good news is you have one gentle colony, so that's where your next queen should come from

    If you are feeling brave or have a very good beesuit and smoker find the bitch queen and squash her
    If there is drone brood remove it
    After 5 days or so go through the bad hive and squash every queen cell make sure you get them all
    Put a frame from your good hive into the bad one
    That frame should have eggs and very young larva
    After a few days just check for queen cell on the introduced frame
    You can reduce them down to one or two good open ones of the same age
    Check they haven't made any cells on the other frames (squash them)

    Put the kettle on and get the Anthisan out

    There are lots of other ways but that's the way I would go

  4. #4


    Thanks Mr Ranger that's very helpful and sounds like the best methods for a beginner.

    Might I ask a couple more questions - we have varroa present already and have commenced treatment with apilife var. I only put the first strips in yesterday - should we wait until after the 4 week treatment is completed before requeening do you think?

    Should I put the introduced frame of eggs and larvae from the good hive into the bad one at point of squishing the old queen or 5 days after?

  5. #5


    Not sure on the apilife var front whether that can stay in
    Thymol won't harm new larva so probably ok

    What I definitely wouldn't do is wait 4 weeks
    If you have the weather I would do it now

    The idea is once the bad queen is out and squished
    The hive will make queen cells
    They will pick very young larva

    After 5 days those queen cells are easy to spot (usually)
    So we squash them before we get another bad queen

    Once the cells are squashed we give them the frame from your good hive
    They will find young lava and raise cells on it

    We wait again about 5 days have a look in to make sure that has happened
    But we also check the rest of the frames because if there were eggs on them
    Those eggs will have have hatched and if there are any suitable larva the bees will raise queen cells on them as well (we definitely don't want that)

    We reduce all the queen cells down to one (normally)
    That's to stop swarming
    If there are more than one cell the first virgin should kill any others but we are still in the swarming season so she might leave with half the bees instead (you might not mind that in this case though lol!)

    So you can see you want to put your good frame in 5 days after you squash the old queen cells

    Sent from my LIFETAB_S1034X using Tapatalk

  6. #6


    Thank you sir (or M'lady) that's crystal clear.

    One last question - do you have any advice regards the unpleasant task of dispatching the old queen?

    Is it find her, pluck her off the frame, put her on a piece of wood and..........squish fast with a hammer in the vicinity of the hive or should it be done with more ceremony away from the colony?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Aberdeenshire, on top of a wind-swept and exposed hill.


    Quote Originally Posted by wheresthedog View Post
    ... put her on a piece of wood and..........squish fast with a hammer ...
    She's not a mouse! I quickly squish her thorax with thumb and forefinger (wearing latex gloves) - but I've only very rarely had to do that, for example, drone layers. I even keep my aggressive queens. Their moods can change and they can become absolutely calm and no problem at all.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by Mellifera Crofter View Post
    She's not a mouse!
    Haha!! That made me chuckle - I was going for swiftness of death!

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by wheresthedog View Post
    we have varroa present already and have commenced treatment with apilife var. I only put the first strips in yesterday -
    New here as well, although not new to beekeeping.
    Varroa is pretty much always present nowadays in each hive. So, the question is how many are there? There will be a time, when your hive is without brood, when you re-queen your aggressive hive. This means a big cut in the mite's life cycle and a perfect opportunity to treat. When your new queen is mated and just started to lay eggs (you will be excited to see that!) you could treat them with a trickle of oxalic acid or spray them (lactic acid works as well). I often cage the new queen and keep it in my pocket for the treatment, then allow her back shortly after. As you are a beginner, it would be good to get help from your local association as well.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Adam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Norfolk East Anglia, South Scotland


    I would not want to make a bad-tempered colony queenless as they could be much worse. My suggestion;

    Move the colony 3 - 6 feet to one side. On the old site place a brood box on a floor. The flyers will return to that spot. Leave for a while of you wish to allow more to do that and then locate the queen. Put her on her frame in the new BB on the old site. Fill up with foundation or comb as you have it; you could add a couple of frame of brood if you wanted; you have now created an artificial swarm with the (more stingy) older bees with the queen. Give them the supers. The remaining colony will be queenless (and may need feeding as it will have little food and no foragers).

    After 6 or 7 days, you can move the queenless colony to the other side of the Q+ one to bleed off more flyers first, but open upp, ensure you remove anything that looks like a queencell and then add a frame of eggs& young larvae. With lots of young bees the colony should make a good job of making queencells. Allow one to emerge and she should mate. Once she has mated you can let her lay for 2 - 3 weeks before uniting and releiving the other colony of the bad-tempered queen.
    A slower process but safer....


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