Hapkido Online

Monday, August 11, 2014

Africanized Honey Bees? Coastal Virginia

I had a couple of old supers (from first owner of the bees) that were pretty rotted out and decided to replace them.  I bought some lumber and made new boxes and painted them.  It was a pretty nice morning on Wednesday.  I waited till I saw bees coming and going from the entrance and suited up and lit my smoker.  I knew (even with my normally docile bees) that moving the brood frames would probably anger them so I put on the gloves this time.


Removing the honey supers brought angry buzzing and lot's of head butting. I should have just put the supers back on and walked away.  However I knew that I only had to move 10 frames.  Huge mistake!!!


The first three frames brought six stings through my bee suit.  I went into the house and took a shower and removed any stings from myself and my suit.  The suit had several dozen stingers in it.  I washed and dried the suit then went back out.  The shower and clothes washing did nothing I was immediately attacked in force upon getting within 10 feet of the hive.  At the time I thought I just had a "hot" box.  I moved a few more frames, taking stings through my bee suit the whole time.  I gritted my teeth and pressed on moving frame by frame.


Now I've been keeping bees for three years and in that time I've only gotten one sting up till now.  I've done cut out's, pulling brood comb from RV's and attic's etc.  I've caught swarms.  I've even captured feral bees.  Never have I dealt with bees this aggressive or angry before.


Usually if my bee's got a little stirred up I would simply walk away from the hive about ten or fifteen feet and they would settle down after awhile and I could get back to work.  That trick didn't work this time.  These angry bees followed me through the woods and even into my barn stinging all the way. 


I know that requeening is the recommended action in these cases.  However I can't imagine holding the frames in front of me calmly and finding her with literally hundreds of bees attacking me at the same time, especially with a surprising number of stings making it through my bee suit.  I ran into the house and removed as many of the stinging bees from my suit as I could.  Then I fished my phone out and sent a text message to my family warning them of the danger.  Our bees are usually about 200 feet from our house.  Fortunately they were all out.


I have children, elderly, and animals on the property with the bees.  I decided this time around the prudent course of action was to burn the aggressive hive.  I carried the boxes to a clearing, getting stung every step of the way, and piled them up and burned them.  When I went back in I pulled one stinging worker off my arm and put her in a zip lock bag and froze her.


I had hoped to build up to four hives this year but I am down to just one.  I am not sure if it's aggressive or not, still working up the courage to go back out there.


The doctor counted 22 stings about my back, shoulders, left arm, and left leg.  He gave me Benadryl and sent me home and told me to rest for three days.  I've had a few nightmares and I am a little gun shy from bees now.


Don't know if these were Africanized or not but demonstrated the behaviors that I've read about AHB.


If I stay in beekeeping I'll probably requeen all my hives every other spring or so.