Dealing with angry bees!

Just been down to the hive to weigh the top couple of boxes and maybe to check for brood as I have an inkling the hive could be in trouble (see

Whilst there is plenty of honey in the boxes, my main issue is how to deal with angry bees who are mightily upset at their world being messed around with, something they are definitely not used to. I did have to remove the top box so I could weigh the second one, as I couldn’t actually lift both together!!

One of the downsides of low-maintenance and low intervention beekeeping is that we ultimately get less experience with actually working with the bees. I have to admit to feeling pretty intimidated by scores of them chasing after me with the sole purpose of stinging me to death!!

Any tips on how to overcome this issue? I have tried both smoking (which seemed to enrage them more) and also spraying with sugar water (which seems to help a bit). I know the demeanor of the beekeeper is also essential. I’m sure my stress levels were rising which definitely didn’t help and probably also contributed to me being stung several times.


Graham, Reading Berkshire


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2 Responses to Dealing with angry bees!

  1. simplebees says:


    Like all warm blooded creatures, bee colonies are affected by hot weather such as we are having at the moment. They can become quite irritable. You may be interested in reading this from someone else asking the same question. I also received an email only this morning from another beekeeper commenting on the fact that her bees have become feisty.

    Apart from the weather, how is the honey flow where you are? Is it continuing, or has it dried up? A sudden cessation will leave the foragers looking for activity and, if you happen to provide it, they will oblige!

    Lastly, you were concerned a while ago about the queenrightness of your colony. John H and I gave you some pointers. Did you come to any conclusions? The queen status of a colony also affects its mood. Queenlessness (either with or without laying workers) is often accompanied by defensiveness.

    These factors are not independent, so some careful observation is needed to tease them apart. The mood change from the first two will be temporary. The last less so.

    Gareth, Cotswolds

  2. Gareth, the honey flow here looks as if it is continuing. The top two boxes are a kilo or two heavier than they were last week. There looks as if there is plenty of foraging and entrance fanning going on. However, there is only the occassional pollen coming in.

    With regards the queenrightness of the colony, I wanted to first check the box weights to see if they were going up or down. I was then going to look for brood on one or more combs. However, the fact that the bees are quite “feisty” makes me reticent to do this as they were mightily upset with me last night.

    So, I guess what to do? I do need to determine the state of the colony to find out if there is a laying queen, but don’t want to incur the wrath of the bees and get stung multiple times (as I did last night) in the process. Same goes for harvesting at the moment.

    If a colony had a laying worker, would there still be workers going out foraging, fanning and doing other activities such as this? Are there any other signs I can look for?

    Graham, Reading Berkshire

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