How Aggressive Are Honeybees?

To be safe and successful in beekeeping, you need to know the pros and cons of your bee species. Knowing your bee’s temperament is a good step to take in attaining such a goal.

We all know bees have a lethal form of defense that can strike fear even in the bravest — especially if someone is allergic. Yet, their activities, such as pollination, are crucial to our ecosystem and their production of honey. 

Are Honeybees Violent? 

There’s no straight answer as it depends on several things. For example, which subspecies is the honeybee? What are the conditions that cause it to be aggressive? 

Looking at the subspecies, there are various strains of honeybees and each with different temperaments. We have the Carniolan and Caucasian honeybees, which run a very gentle hive. The German and Russian honeybees are quite a violent bunch to look out for. It’s the Italian strain that has a moderate temperament.

Why do Honeybees Get Aggressive?

Out of other species of bees, we deem honeybees the most docile. Although, depending on certain conditions, this isn’t always the case.

Honeybees are just like other animals that have a natural hostile response to danger. Knowing what makes them tick is more than just how many feet away should you be.

Here are the reasons why honeybees get aggressive:

  • Colony size
  • Attractive clothing colors 
  • No queen
  • If it’s raining
  • Threat of invaders

Colony Size

The bigger the colonies, the more tendency for the honeybees to become aggressive. Honeybees are good at growing in numbers, making them viable for the fast production of honey and storing it up. 

Honey is a very important resource, of which they intend to keep protected, especially during scarcity in the winter.

While beekeeping, it’s best to know this so your precious honeybees won’t hurt you. Try to stay clear as much as possibles unless you have something urgent to do.

Attractive Clothing

The honeybee’s eyes are very effective and are excellent at using colors to find their food. Their eyes are a lot different from ours — they can see colors five times faster than we can. This is synonymous with noticing a single flower within a colorful flora while moving fast/driving a car.

Don’t be surprised when honeybees hurl towards your direction as you pass by wearing a bright pink, blue or yellow clothing. They often confuse humans for moving flowers. 

Don’t think you’re safe with dull-colored dressing, though. Dark shades of red and black may not make you seem like a flower, but more of a predator. Some colony’s bees are that color-sensitive that they can mistake you for the enemy. 

As a beekeeper, always wear white, colorless attire — it’s effective at repelling bees. 

No Queen

The queen is the highest-ranked member of a bee colony, and she’s in charge of various factors that ensure a strong colony:

  • Reproducing more bees
  • Honey production
  • Water regulation
  • Helps to resist infection

Bees will panic without this figure in place. You’d be unlucky to find yourself nearby when such a tragedy occurs. 

When the colony is in such a situation, you’ll most likely hear low roars or high-pitched whines. This means they need a new queen, so stay clear if possible. 

Bees Dislike the Rain

Just as the weather affects human activities, it’s the same for bees. The worst case is after it rains, and the heat and humidity level around the colony skyrockets. Thus, moderately mannered bees become aggressive.

The high heat levels cause a ruckus. Production in the hive comes to a halt in such a situation since most of the workforce will focus on keeping the hive cool.

Defending Against Both Insects and Mammals

Honeybees are always on guard against the presence of scavengers and predators. Insects like ants, flies and hornets are great examples, which usually steal honey to survive. Hornets are a much bigger threat to honeybees as they can take down a whole hive. Other honeybees are also a nuisance to their colonies, especially when flowers are scarce. 

Honeybees also have to handle bigger threats such as bears, skunks, raccoons and even humans. Because these are much larger predators, they make use of a pheromone alarm to signal nearby bees that a predator is around. T’s in this instance that honeybees become aggressive. 

As a beekeeper, it’s best to wash off the pheromones from your protective gear immediately after an attack from a honey bee swarm. 

Summary

As a beekeeper, you should take precautions and consider what makes honeybees tick, so you can run a peaceful beekeeping farm. By now, you should know that placing competing hives close to one another will only make your bees aggressive. The same occurs when you don’t take notice and replace a queen on time.

Ultimately, honeybees aren’t aggressive unless their hive is at risk, or they’ve mistaken you for a flower ripe for pollination.

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