How can I best avoid ocassionally agressive individual bees?

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Our neighbor is a retired apiarist who brought several bee boxes home. We are in the rurals, on 1/4-1/3 acre lot, & they have a double lot. I don't usually mind the bees, even though in hot weather they make it somewhat difficult or unpleasant for birds to use their baths. However--on occasion-- one --or a few-- bees act like they're Africanized, follow us around the yard buzzing around our face/s, and sometimes 'making that beeline' for us & stinging!

Last year one got the tip of my nose; last week one stung near my jugular vein! I was just walking in the garden each time, hoping to walk out of their range. When only my nose was stung, it only hurt for a few seconds, & I thought the stinger had come out somehow. But, the entire bee was still there when I got to the mirror in the bathroom, so I know for sure it was a bee, rather than a hornet, etc.

Anyway... I want to know if the bees would be bothering with gathering water from our yard, if they have a plentiful supply of *easy to get* water near their hives...?

When I took care of their yard a few weeks years back, he had one hive there for me to keep water available for, but I recall that he floated pieces of wood in the water, and they were mossy & slippery, not to mention unstable in any breeze or wind. I've made some purposely rough concrete birdbaths for a better foothold, & soon saw even a Hummingbird bathe in one! Of course, the bees really like them, too! (There are many more bees on the rough concrete b-baths, compared to the open conch shell, old hubcap, & ceramic b-baths!)

I put a chicken watering dish (about 4"deep & 24" across) with bricks in it just inside our mutual side fence-line... but, he has a row of Tall, Bushy Oak trees along there that the bees must fly over to reach our flowers, and I don't think they notice it. I put some further out a bit, hoping to catch their eye, & then slowly move them closer to the bigger one, but they don't seem to care for those, either. So, I put one of my favorite cement b-baths at the center back of our lot, clear of trees except for some tall cacti about 8' away. We rarely venture over there. I'm staggering when I fell up the other cement b-baths, and set a large roasting pan in one of them, filled to within an inch of the top to discourage the bees, but at least give the birds an afternoon-shaded drinking water option.

I hate to have to carry a squirt-gun of soapy water (w/ tea-tree oil) every time I go out in the yard. My 'hubby' is ready to just let everything dry up to cut down on bee visits. But, we do have some flowers they like, & I will not let those dry up... nor do I want to lose our views of flapping wings & feathers spraying the surrounding few feet with water! (Dust baths are OK, but not nearly as fun to watch!)

The harassing usually starts when I'm near some water that the bees are busy with,
rather than when I'm just near some flowers. That's why I'm so focussed on the b-baths.

I looked for answers in the following site, but didn't find them. Did learn quite a bit, though:

"Basic Beekeeping Operations"

So... Do you think my only option is to take out the occasional aggressive bees with an arsenal of soapy water kept at the ready... Or, that if my neighbor really had enough water for them near the hives, offered in ways they 'prefer', that they would just stick to the flowers when in our yard?

(Most of our flowers are around the edges, while most of the b-baths are in the center.) From reading our municipal code, I'm pretty sure he is violating it regarding having any bees, at all. But, I *don't* want him to lose them... I just want to somehow avoid the ornery bees that sometimes harass & 'nail' us! (I talked to Vector Control -i guess it was- last year, & she said that many of the bees in the area have hybridized with the Africanized bees. Last year in our area, some very aggressive bees attacked-in-swarm --& killed-- some farm animals.)

BTW, when I've been stung, the area adjacent to the sting --for several inches in all directions-- always used to swell up badly, turn purple, & I'd be in excruciating pain for days! But, I now take *pure* MSM immediately following --or, use diluted DMS0 externally-- and *no longer have trouble* with swelling, bruising, OR, pain! (: Coincidence? I doubt it, considering that my dog has presented with noticeable swelling around one eye once, and on her paw another time, and both times I gave her MSM, & the swelling started going down in about an hour, & continued until it was altogether gone in awhile. Both times ocurred when the bees were very active. (She snaps at bees in fear, sometimes. Maybe stepped on one the other time.)

Anyway . . . Thank You Kindly for your Input.

Thumbnail by 2QandLearn
Greenfield, OH(Zone 6a)

An old time beekeeper told me a couple weeks ago that he would not put up with aggresive bees. He said he had a hive once that turned "darn-right mean" so instead of requeening, he killed them all. If I remember he said, "I ain't puttin' up with it"
So, you could explain your problem to your neighbor and see if he thinks he should requeen.
After that, no matter what his answer, I'd blast away for yours and your families safety.

Northern California, CA(Zone 9a)

Bees will hone in on a water source and then return to the hive and tell their sisters the location. Once they have the location of a constant (constant being the KEY word here) source of water they will continue to return to it.

If you are able to (for a two weeks or more) dump the water out so that the source they are using is dried up and no water at all is available, they'll stop coming. At the same time, if you can work with your neighbor to create a constant/reliable source on HIS property they may make that their new 'watering hole'.

It is a process to retrain the bees to a new source and there are a few things that you can do to encourage them to use his watering spots vs. yours. One is to add some sugar syrup to the water in the beginning to attract them (cane sugar only, not corn syrup or beet sugar - here on the west coast we use C&H brand of cane sugar)

One way that your neighbor can create a daily water source is to put a timer on a hose spigot and attach a drip tubing with 1/4" spaghetti line feeding into what ever container he's using to hold water. Set the timer to refill the container every day making sure never goes dry - Not sure how hot it is in Manifee so he'll need to adjust the timer to make sure it stays constantly full or the bees will go and source another place for water. All of the parts can be bought at Home Depot or Lowes.

The water source he provides should not be within 20-30 feet of his hive and should be located in the sun, bees wont generally drink from water near their hive - when they take their cleansing flights, they defecate near the hive and therefore wont drink the water that may contain bee poo. The bees need a perch so that they don't drown so it should be filled with cleaned gravel, clay pot shards, rocks, broken bricks, corks or something similar so that the bees can land and drink.

I was told, but have not tried it, that you can also put out a salt lick block that you can buy at the feed store and place it inside of a cinder block hole (turn the block on it's side and put the salt lick inside so that when it rains it doesn't' dissolve it) the bees often drink murky water for the minerals, hence the salt lick.

For what ever reason, my bees prefer to drink off of the ground and not so much the dish of water I have set up. I think it's so they can get the minerals from the muddy water. Go figure.

Just know that it is a process to retrain the bees to a new source and the KEY is that the new source NOT ever dry up, once it dries up the will relocate to another source which may be your bird bath.

On a side note, the bees drinking could also be from a feral source and may not be his bees at all. Either way, they should stop using your water after it's dried up for a bit.

I agree with yardener, can't tolerate aggressive bees. But there's no need to kill the hole hive though, just re-queen and wait for the next generation. It takes patience and time but seems like a better, more sustainable option.

Also you may want to ask your neighbor if he's given his bees enough space. One reason bees can get sassy is due to lack of space. They may need another super to relieve congestion. Once that happens, they calm down in a week or so. Just a thought.

Here are two photos of my watering hole. I have a drippy faucet and just placed an old clay pot saucer under the drip. I filled it with gravel and some broken clay pots that stick up above the water line. But they still want to drink the murky nasty water off of the ground.

p.s. can you share what *pure* MSM is? Sounds like something I'd like to have on hand. I get stung on occasion, it goes with the territory of being a beekeeper and even though I don't have much of a reaction any more (get the stinger out quick) some times I do swell.

Thumbnail by begoniacrazii Thumbnail by begoniacrazii
Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Hmmm, the closer source of water I offered may be too close to the hives.
Whenever I watch the bees, I only see them either coming from, or going to, the direction of his hives.
How likely is it that some bees from elsewhere might have blown or flown in...?
Yes, I have a drippy faucet that they like, & the wet ground beneath, too! (:

Two weeks without birdbaths... doesn't seem like an option. They are my favorite entertainment!
May try filling only straight-slippery-sided baths for them, though. . .
Fewer of the bees that find those can cause trouble or return, since more fall in & drown. :

Why should their water be in the sun . . . For the sunlight to purify it . . . ?
(One of their favorite 'drinking spots' in our yard is under our Olive tree, which is pretty shady 90% of the day.)

Can re-queening really help with an aggressive hive? Does it take long when it works?
I only have issue with a few bees, here & there... the ones that decide to sting for no apparent reason, and sometimes get stuck in our hair while harassing us! A few weeks can transpire before another 'situation' develops. But, people who don't like bees don't care to visit in warm weather, nor those allergic! I got naied aggain this evening, while moving one of the waterers that was probably too close to their hives, & was being ignored (I thought?).

Regarding MSM, it has a great many uses! I feel sure that everything you want to know are in one of these articles, but don't ask me to pick which is best... If you are going to have MSM around, you ought to become aware of the *many* ways it can benefit you! (:

"MSM / Methyl Sulfonyl Methane"
- Biological Sulfur and Your Health

"The MSM Miracle"
- (includes its how it was discovered)

"MSM -&- DMSO"
- Alternative Health Group

NOTE---There is a saturation point for MSM, though, and if you go over that you'll get the 'runs' until you stop or cut back sufficiently! Last week I read someone's suggestion to take a certain amount for a few days, then cut it back for a few more days, and then to only take that amount once weekly, when taking it for maintenance. Didn't seem to bookmark that page, somehow, though. It may have been part of a blog.

Right after that I read elsewhere online that...
While the body gets rid of DMSO within a few hours,
it tends to hang on to MSM...

So you can probably use DMSO (topically) much more often than MSM (internally) without reaching tissue saturation.

(Not sure where I read it, or if it's true... but, I think I once read that DMSO is ineffective taken orally, while MSM is not as effective used topically.)

DMSO smells strongly like garlic, & hasl ong been used on injured race horses...

Several years back I injured my leg & heel running hard & fast down the pavement, to catch someone driving away, for an important -late- phone call they'd been waiting for. Not only was I not used to running, I was barefoot... For a year after that I was unable to walk flat-footed... My L. calf screamed with pain, and my L. heel felt like I was stepping on a sharp nail, whenever I tried to take a normal step. So, I seemed a few inches taller on my tippie-toes, that year! (;

Then a friend told me about DMSO. I got a book from the library written by its founder, read it, got some, & applied it all over my HANDS! Yep. He said that it travels throughout the body, & I wanted to test it! It burned some because I neglected to dilute it with water or aloe. But, then I went to bed... In the morning, my calf had NO pain when I put my foot flat on the floor! However, the 'nail' was still there when I put my weight on it. So, after a week I put DMSO all over my freshly cleaned foot (DMSO takes whatever is on the skin into the body). I put a *cotton* sock over it & hopped into bed, arising the next morning MINUS the 'nail' that had 'been' in my heel! I guess I had pulled some muscle, & torn a ligament or something in the heel. But, I've never had any trouble with either, since!

MSM & DMSO are closely related, as one comes from the other. You can get either in any HFS, but I don't recommend any low-cost stores as sources. Hubby bought me some MSM crystal powder from Walmart once, but when I tried to dissolve it in water, it just floated on top . . . one sign that it is *not pure* MSM. DMSO liquid (it solidifies well above freezing) is very oily.

Northern California, CA(Zone 9a)

Thanks for the info on MSM, I'll do some reading. I'm familiar with DMSO as my husband used it many years ago.

As for the bees, I've not heard this nor read it but I think that it's possible that you can move your bird baths to a further location and still enjoy them all the while setting up the new drinking station at your neighbors (and enticing them to go there with some sugar syrup in the water to get them started)

Since bees 'geo-locate' on the source, they may not go back to the original bird bath if it's moved to a new location far enough away from the original. Cant say for sure, but it's sure worth a try so that you can at least enjoy your birds.

Why put water in the sun? Good question, I don't know why it's best but that's what I've been told and or read about.

There are several reasons bees get aggressive, and the behavior you're talking about would have me wondering if the beekeeper is aware of his bees being nasty and why they would tolerate that kind of defensive behavior.

These are just a few of the more common reasons why they get defensive/aggressive;

Lack of hive space- if his hives are robust and have outgrown their home and he's failed to provide more room, they get cranky.

Nectar dearth- this time of year as the nectar sources dry up, the bees can get cranky.

Yellow Jackets or other critters - if the bees have been forced to defend their hive due to hungry yellow jackets who pick off bees as they are coming and going from the hive.

Raccoons, skunks, etc scratch the hive at night causing the bees to fly out in defense and the critter eats the bees.

Bad queen- if the queen genetic trait is for nasty, defensive bees her progeny will also be that way (hence re-queening) Re-queening is a process, but here are the cliff notes. Beekeeper obtains a new queen and introduces it to the hive, old queen is removed, all of the brood and worker bees need to die off taking with thereby removing the old queen genetics for being nasty, new brood and workers will carry the genetic traits of the new queen.
It can take no less than 6-8 weeks. Warm season bees live about 8 weeks before they die. So from egg to death it's about 11-12 weeks. The end result however is a calm, nice hive of bees that are pleasant to work and not out stinging neighbors. If your neighbor is in fact a retired apiarist, they will know how to do this process. New queens run between $20-30 so it's not expensive (or if the beekeeper has a calm hive, he can graft a queen from that hive for free).

My bees are calm and sweet, I work them in a tank top and shorts (with a veil so they don't sting my face or get caught in my hair). I can stand by my hives and they don't bother me. I walk within one foot of the water source I showed you and they couldn't care less about me. That's the kind of behavior you want from bees.
Once in a while, my girls get testy - on each occasion it's been due to me not giving them space or having done an intensive hive manipulation the day before. But they settle right down.

Here's a comical anecdote. Bees don't like beer breath! We walk our orchard every evening and check in on our hives, on two occasions this summer when the temps were in the upper 90's, I had a cold beer in my hand. I was just standing there, admiring the hive and ZING, a girl came out of nowhere and stung me on the nostril! Two days later, different hive but the same thing, ZING girl came out and stung me on my arm. On future walks, I either don't take a beer with me or take a glass of wine or nothing. It hasn't happened again, so my conclusion is, beer breath = bad for bees!

Perhaps you can have a chat with the beekeeper and see if you can come to a solution. Really the onus is on the beekeeper to give the bees a good reputation in your community and do so by making sure his bees are going after the neighbors.

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

I have to admit that I've caved! I am intermintantly filling the cement b-baths, & using slippery-straight sided baths atop the others. . . (I need to keep them in place or I can't see them from the windows!)

One sting now & again won't kill me. I've learned to be more careful not to disturb them when I refill, & haven't been stung again for a week! (; The vast majority of them are calm enough. It's just been an occasional few . . . maybe I had doused them with water the day before, or something!

The dog seemed to have gotten a sting the other day on her front elbow, but she's getting some MSM 2x daily, so the swelling didn't amount to much. I have my trusty squirt bottle filled with tea-tree-dish-soap water, just in case!

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

Taking note of what you said about bees that have been disturbed can remain agitated for a few days, I have tried to remember NOT to EVER dump or wash out one of the bird-baths unless the bees are NOT visiting it at that time. . . and, it seems to be working! I hadn't realized it, but, it seems that I was the biggest cause of the disturbance to begin with! ):

So, I'm going to 'call this a wrap.'

Thank You for your input!!! (:

Menifee, CA(Zone 9a)

This winter said it got as cold as 22 degrees F., but, one of our neighbors said his porch thermometer went down to 16 degrees F. The neighbor with the excess of bee hives remaining in his yard (with who knows how many active hives) told me recently that several of them had somehow fallen over & opened up, and most of the living hives in his yard froze to death.

Our temperature yesturday got up to 96-98 degrees F. (though said it was only 88F), and there were hardly any bees to be seen at our birdbaths. That's sad! I wish the hives had been spread out somewhere, and they continues to add to the dwindling bee population! ):

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.