Often, bees can become agitated, and in such times they are ready to go on a stinging spree on anyone who crosses their path or is within the vicinity of their live. As a beekeeper, it is in your best interest to find ways to calm your bees if you don’t want them to sting either you, your children, pets, or other people.
To calm bees down, use a smoker; alternatively, you can spray them with a sugar solution. You can also calm your bees by observing your behavior when around them, such as staying quiet, wearing proper colored clothing (white), handling them gently, and avoiding sudden movements.
Let’s dive in and learn what you need to know as far as calming your bees down is concerned.
Why Is It So Important To Calm Your Bees?
It is dangerous to be around agitated bees because they are on defensive mode and will sting at any time since they perceive you as a threat. Stinging is a tool bees use to save their colony, and even veteran beekeepers suffer stings at times, but mostly amateur beekeepers can make the bees angry because of carelessness.
It is needful for every beekeeper to know what to do in case their bees turn aggressive. The primary reason, of course, is to avoid getting stung. Also, the next important thing is to save your bees from certain death, considering they will die immediately after losing their single sting.
To save yourself and your bees for a great future of honey production, learn to calm angry bees down. You can even use the experience to earn some money when people in your neighborhood suffer an angry swarm problem in their homes.
How Do You Calm Bees Without Smoking?
Having understood why you should do all within your power to calm bees down, the question now is how do you calm bees down?
You can use certain tactics to cool down an angry swarm. You may think that as long as you are well protected under a beekeeper’s suit, all is well no matter how the bees behave, but that is not the case. It is best to work with a calm beehive.
The most preferred way beekeepers use to calm bees down is smoking. But it may not always be a good option because of cost constraints, beekeeper health hazards, or even negative environmental impact. It is for these reasons you may need to find another option.
Smoking is not the only way, for there are many other alternatives to smoking to calm bees. Here are some of them;
- Open the hive only when the weather and temperatures are conducive for the bees
Bees are very selective of the temperatures and weather conditions. As a matter of fact, worker bees play the crucial role of collecting water to help maintain ambient temperatures within the hive.
If you dare open the hive during the night when it is cold or when the weather is cloudy, the bees will become aggressive.
To make sure your bees remain calm, only open the hive when conditions are conducive for doing so. It is recommended that you open the hive in mid-morning. During this time, the foragers being the most aggressive lot, usually have already left the hive.
Also, do it when the weather is sunny and warm, and it is a bright day. Cold and cloudy weather turns the bees aggressive.
- Remain calm
Calmness starts with you, and it is important that before you try to calm the bees, you are calm yourself. No matter how well protected you are, if you do not stay calm and provoke the bees, you will get stung.
During routine checks or normal bee hiving activities, remain calm and avoid panicking or exhibiting any fear even if some bees fly near you. Bees are curious insects, and they cannot help flying about, but that does not mean they are always after you.
Remaining calm avoids unnecessary aggression and mishaps.
- Remain quiet
Loud noises alarm your bees and make them defensive.
If you do not enjoy blaring noises near you or in your home, do you expect bees to enjoy noise near their home? Of course not.
Quietness is why you will never see experienced beekeepers making noises or talking too much when tending to their bees to avoid alarming them.
Maintain silence. Avoid talking when around the hive, keeping in mind your noises can trigger the bees while silence will help them remain calm.
- Avoid goofing around when near the hive
Your behavior around the hive is just as important as your silence when near the hive.
The same way bees hate loud noises in their environment is how they hate misbehavior. Things like running around, games, or any sort of craziness near the hive cause problems to the bees and will make them angry.
The bees will misinterpret any misbehavior as a threat to them and their hive and respond by stinging.
Maintain calmness and avoid goofing around to keep your bees calm.
- Wear appropriately when handling bees
The dressing is very important for bees, especially the color of the clothing material and scent that you put on.
If you don’t wear a protective suit, you may be stung by the bees, but the suit does not only serve the purpose of protecting you, it also has the additional role of calming the bees.
If you opt to make the suit yourself rather than buy it, you must be aware of some things, and the most important is the color of the fabric.
Certain colors trigger bees, while other colors are more appealing and calming to them. It is for this reason that most commercial suits on amazon are either white or dull yellow. It is not a coincidence. From scientific research, bees are genetically wired to be aggressive towards dark-colored objects because most predators in the wild normally have dark-colored fur.
If you want your bees to remain calm, let the color not be too bright to avoid drawing them to you. White is a neutral color to the bees, neither interesting nor threatening, and thus the best option for a protective suit.
- Handle the bees gently
Part of the beekeeping activities is opening the hives to inspect the conditions within the hive and check on the queen. When you need to routinely inspect your hives, you must be careful to handle the bees gently.
Avoid using a lot of force when holding the bees in your hands such that you may end up crushing them. Hold them lightly and when placing them back, do it with gentleness.
The death of even one bee because of your excessive use of force will be quickly noticed among the colony, and they will respond with aggression and stinging to get rid of the threat against their lives.
If you are gentle, no bee will be killed, and they will not consider you a threat and thus remain calm during your routine inspection and maintenance rounds.
- Do not make any sudden movements
Bees have five eyes which causes them to be very alert and aware of their surroundings.
Most predators tend to make sudden movements, especially those that eat or steal honey, and bees are wired to be alert and respond quickly.
For this reason, to avoid triggering the bees’ defensive nature, avoid sudden movements when around them.
Move gracefully and act normal and calmly when around the bees. That way, you will be safe, and the bees will have nothing to trigger them.
Does Sugar Water Calm Bees?
Apart from smoke, you can also use sugary solutions to calm your bees down. But this has to be done with caution as any watery solution presents a hazard to the bees. Read more on where do bees get their water from:
The sugar solution effectively calms bees down and distracts them from launching an attack against the intruder.
Sugar solution works because when you spray the bees, they are momentarily distracted. They lose focus and involve themselves in frantic cleaning to rid themselves of the sugar solution on their body. The self-cleaning takes their focus away from the intruder and for some time makes them nonaggressive as they are at that time dealing with a more pressing issue. Therefore, the general effect is having calm bees and giving you an easy time to do what you need to in the hive.
It is recommended that you avoid using a smoker if you have just transferred your colony into a new hive. The smoke will cause them to think there is a problem with their new home and a potential fire is imminent causing them to abandon the hive and look for a new home. For a new colony, a sugar solution is your best option. Only after your bees have adapted themselves to their new home, then you can start using a smoker.
A sugar solution is also best for people’s health conditions and those with acute reactions to smoke. Such as people with allergies and asthma.
Even in areas where the climate is dry, and it is easy to start a fire if you use a smoker, the sugar solution is a good alternative. Most experienced beekeepers actually use sugar solution as their primary calming solution for all their hive activities.
You can buy sugar sprays, or you can make one for yourself locally at home. The right ratio of mixing water and sugar is 1:1. But only use this during the warmer months of the year. Using a sugar solution during colder months is endangering your bees, for it can kill them or give them diarrhea.
Does Any Smoke Calm Bees?
A smoker is just as important as a good beekeeping suit, for it will keep you from getting stung. But that does not mean you can use any smoke. Some smoke types may do more damage to your bees and make the bees angrier instead of calming them down.
You can make the mistake of using the wrong type of smoke and harm your bees. The best smoke to use is one that is generated from natural wood materials, especially pine cone is the best, but most other wood chips work just fine.
However, not all smoke works. Here is what you need to know about the type of smoke you should use;
- The smoke should not be too hot
If the smoke is too hot, it will harm your bees. You must ensure the smoke is just at the right temperature to serve its purpose of calming down the bees.
The problem usually comes in when the beekeeper uses materials that produce smoke that is too hot. Opt for wood chips, and also, you must learn and know how to control the smoke temperature.
When the smoke is too hot, you may end up melting the wings of your golden insects and doing more damage than good.
Make sure the smoke temperature is not too hot.
- Avoid using excessive smoke
It is a common amateur mistake to use too much smoke because of panic when one realizes the bees have become too aggressive. The bees will interpret excess smoke as fire, and they will exit the hive for good.
Do not puff a lot of smoke, just a bit at a time once in a while and only when necessary. If the bees are calm, there is no need to puff them with smoke.
What Will Happen If I Spray Bees With Water?
Water can be either a calming thing to bees or a hazard and must be used cautiously because bees are poor swimmers; spraying them with water incapacitates them and makes them unable to sting.
But using soapy water makes them unable to move or fly around because it is sticky and will eventually kill them. It is best to avoid using water against bees.
How Long Does It Take For Bees To Calm Down?
The time it takes for bees to calm down depends on what triggered them in the first place.
If the bees are cranky because of changes in the temperature and weather, they tend to calm down pretty quickly as soon as conditions get better.
But if the bees were cranked up because of human factors or other predators, it can take 1 to 2 weeks for them to calm down. But some bees are naturally aggressive by design, and such bees seldom calm down.
What Scent Calms Bees?
Floral fragrances from research have been found to calm bees down. Top of the list is lavender scent and also mint. But other scents such as limonene (found in citruses) were found to aggravate the bees even more. The lavender and mint scents were able to calm the bees down because they associated it with nectar and feeding.