Last weekend I noticed quite a few dead bees in front of the hives. I didn’t think much of it as I had cleared out their bottom boards previously. The colonies finally started taking syrup in the hives and I had one colony left that needed a feeder. Wednesday, I went to exchange the screened inner cover for a solid inner cover on that colony and just as I lifted the lid, I was stung at least 5 times. Needless to say, I was surprised and thankfully wearing my veil. But I was wearing my work pants which offered no protection from stingers. I got stung 3 times on my lower abdomen (below the elastic of the bee jacket) and 2 more on my legs. I set everything down, went back to the house and put on my bee pants (after making sure I didn’t have any stray guards hounding me). After I finished doing what needed to be done–they were NOT happy with me, I had more stingers on my pants–I surveyed the fronts of the hives to see what might be going on. Their unusual aggressiveness coupled with a larger than remembered quantity of dead bees on the ground triggered a closer inspection of the carcass piles.
Among the even carpet of carcasses I found this:
Some of you may remember these “balls of bees.” Several years ago, I noticed a similar sudden aggressiveness only to discover these same balls of shrunken bees. Apparently, a skunk has been visiting and feasting. As a recap, to deter these beasts I had tried the carpet tacks on the landing board and motion activated water sprayer. The solution turned out to be placing a chicken wire fence around the hives. I still had it until this past fall. Needless to say, it went back up Thursday after work. I had to don my full bee get-up to do it and it was a nice, warm day… I was sweating by the time I was done.
I laid tarp in front of the hives to help me identify any new balls of bees. I am happy to report that as of yesterday (Friday), there were no new balls of dead bees and I could actually walk out there without being warned by kamikazes.