Yesterday I did all of the work ready to close down my hives but had to go back today to swap a couple of frames between my hives so that they both went into winter with the same amount of honey. Thinking this a quick job, I suited up but didn't bother with my smoker.
My new, calm, gentle, docile Italian bees acted up as if they were the most feral colony imaginable. Was this just the absence of smoke?
Yes and no. Smoke makes the bees think a bushfire is near and triggers them to gorge on honey. Perhaps the bees do this in case they need to evacuate, they do not lose all their honey. More importantly, the smell of the smoke blocks chemical signals the bees send to one another. Signals that cause the colony to organize a defence attack against you. When you do not use your smoker the bees will probably react defensively. They will sting your bee suit and they will die. You may end up killing a large number of bees in this way and you could also endanger your neighbours if the bees become especially agitated. Neighbours who get stung aren't likely to be very understanding. They may report you to the local council or at the very least it is bad PR for backyard beekeepers and in the end that doesn’t help any of us, including the bees.
Another thing that can make your calm bees agitated is the weather. Leave the hive alone if the weather is changing such that there is a material change in the atmospheric pressure. That is: bad weather is approaching.
I'm a beginner Ken. I found your piece on smokers very helpful.
I'm a beginner Keith. I found your piece on smokers very helpful.
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