What happens if you crush a bee?

Most people love bees, and most beekeepers avoid killing any while inspecting the hives or harvesting honey. They do this by being calm and gentle in their operations. But this is not always the case; time-conscious commercial beekeepers with hundreds of hives to attend to cannot afford to spend an extra minute on a single hive. They end up crushing a good number of bees in each colony. With steady declines of honey bee colonies, it is good to be cautious about saving the lives of these precious insects. 

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What happens if you crush a bee?

When you crush a honey bee, it releases an alarm pheromone that triggers other bees to attack. They become very defensive towards you and will try to sting you. The more bees that you crush, the more pheromones are released. If you accidentally crush bees while carrying out operations around the hive, you should lessen the reaction by smoking the area to prevent the alarm from spreading fast. 

How do you avoid crushing bees?

Wearing Tight Fitting Gloves

Some beekeepers wear gloves that are too big for them. This causes bumps and drops when handling frames leading to the accidental crushing of bees. Oversize gloves make you lose dexterity, and it is advisable to wear tight-fitting gloves. Some experienced beekeepers prefer to wear no gloves at all.

Using a Smoker

Besides calming the bees, you can also use smoke to drive the bees away from the area you are working from. When restacking the boxes, you should smoke across the top of the lower box before adding another one. 

Moving Slowly

Most novice beekeepers think they should conduct hive inspections as quickly as possible. They are cautious about not having the colony exposed for too long. While this is a valid concern, taking your time and moving slowly is always advisable. When you move quickly, you are more likely to bang or drop a frame and crush the bees in the process. By crushing bees, an alarm pheromone is released that agitates the colony. Fast movements also threaten bees and cause them to react more defensively.

Slide the Boxes and Frames Slowly

There is a high probability of crushing bees when putting the hive back together, especially in a Langstroth hive. It is easier in other types of hives, like the top bar hive.  It is usually hard to crush bees when using a top bar hive. You should slowly slide frames and boxes back to their positions slowly. 

What happens if you accidentally a queen bee?

The worker bees will realize her disappearance within hours due to the lack of her pheromones. They start the process immediately of raising a new queen since a colony cannot survive without her. They select a few eggs or young larvae for the process. It takes 16 days for the queen bees to develop. The first one to develop kills all the other developing queens to take over the colony.

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How can you tell you have an aggressive colony?

Aggressive bees will come after you with little or no provocation. They will buzz around you a couple of times from a distance away as you approach their territory. When you open the top cover of a hive, they will bounce on your veil repeatedly or cling on tightly with their abdomens curled, trying to sting it. The bees will continue to burrow in the folds of your bee suit, under the cuff of your gloves, and even attack the hive frames as you ply the hive open. Once you finish your operations, they will follow you across the apiary. You may consider hanging around until they lose interest in you. A calm colony is usually reactive than proactive. In most cases, they will only react to rough treatment. 

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