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Why do my bees turn nasty when I kill them?

The short answer is that I, too, would turn nasty if you were trying to kill me.

The longer answer is that when you do something that threatens your bees, alarm pheromone is emitted into the air by the endangered bees as they attempt to sting you. The pheromone, which is a mixture of highly volatile chemical compounds, disperses quickly and alerts other bees in the colony that danger is near. In response, guard bees will arrive on the scene to fend off the attacker (you) by head-butting, chasing, and stinging.

Comments

Mike Sylvia
Reply

As a new keeper, I find it disturbing to hear the crunch of bees caught between boxes during an inspection. There is no amount of ‘careful’ that will avoid it. Watching videos of pros and the speed of their work makes me wonder how many bees are killed in an inspection. Do crushed bees also release alarm pheromone?

Rusty
Reply

Mike,

See “How to avoid squishing bees.” I still think setting boxes at an angle and then twisting them into place is the best way. I do it all the time.

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