Solving Bee Behavior Problems

Understanding normal bee behaviors is essential to identifying unusual behavior and correcting any problems.

| October 2015


Using a smoker can help calm bees for routine hive maintenance procedures. If your bees seem more agitated than usual, there may be a problem that needs to be investigated.

Photo courtesy Quarry Books

The Beekeeper’s Problem Solver (Quarry Books, 2015), by James E. Tew, presents 100 common problems faced by beekeepers and offers practical solutions in clear and simple terms. Each key area, from hive management and equipment to diseases and honey production, is tackled in depth with photographs, tips and useful insights. The following excerpt is from chapter 3, “Biology and Behavior of the Colony.”

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: The Beekeeper’s Problem Solver.

It is easy for the beekeeper to grow to see the bee colony as a domesticated animal, one requiring management and care. Over the years, hive equipment and management procedures have evolved that show the bee in an unnaturally tamed light. In fact, the bee has another natural life that beekeeper management techniques unintentionally suppress.

In reality, the honey bee continues to adapt to the demands made by the beekeeper and the equipment used by typical beekeepers. But withstanding this pressure, the honey bee is still a wild being. No aspects of bee studies make this plainer than a review of the biology and behavior of the honey bee. When the naturalness of events such as swarming, queen replacement, brood care, and wintering preparation are observed, honey bees show that they still understand their natural life. Competent beekeepers strive to understand these aspects of the bees’ natural world and incorporate these behaviors in their management systems.

It is important that you gain a solid understanding of bee behavior and colony biology, so that you can distinguish between what’s normal and what represents a problem.

My bees seem to sting more often than is normal


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