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Changing the Attitude of a Hot Hive

Changing the Attitude of a Hot Hive

The longer I am in this industry, the more I learn about the personalities of bees and beekeepers. For instance, I have a very short fuse when it comes to dealing with a hot hive, while others seem to embrace it! Maybe it’s an age thing. But it's more likely that I’m spoiled to sweet bees and no longer want to tolerate less!

When faced with an overly defensive hive, it can be very difficult to “just requeen.” Often these hives are very robust with large populations, making finding the queen bee nearly impossible.

The best approach is to start by dividing the mean colony into as many splits as possible. In doing so, you dilute the “strength in numbers.”

  1. Two frames of brood (one open and one capped)
  2. One frame of honey, nectar, and pollen (This frame is very important—the number of resource frames is what helps determine how many splits you can make.)
  3. Two frames of either drawn comb or new foundation
  4. Install in a nuc box
  5. Check back in three to four days. Whichever split has eggs is the one with the queen. Tip: If you leave all the splits close together, the foragers will all migrate back to the box with the queen bee in it, making it easy to determine her location. Locate the bad queen, kill her, and give new queens to all the splits. You will find it’s much easier to find her in a small split, plus you will find that the bad attitude of all the splits has reduced dramatically. Important: Wait 2–24 hours before installing a queen in the hive where you killed the original queen.
Follow postsplitting instructions of feeding nonstop until filling a full-size box and adding more boxes as they grow.

    Safety Precautions

    It’s a good idea to bring in a mentor or expert to help with an aggressive hive. Let’s face it—you will be making them even madder than they were before. If you live in a suburban setting, I recommend moving the hot hive to a new, more rural location before splitting or requeening the colony.

    Always suit up really well when working with a hot hive—meaning head, face, body, hands, and feet covered. I would also go as far as taping zipper junctions off with duct tape to prevent any breaches. (Ask me how I know.)

    Last, make this split in the middle of a sunny, calm day, and smoke them really, really well as you make the split. See “Making Successful Splits

    Changing the Attitude of a Hot Hive
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