We have noticed aggression in our honey bees during the 2019 beekeeping season. The past four years, one could easily walk in front of and up to our hives without being stung or aggressed. Stings during hives in the past years were almost always due to beekeeper error- for example, I dropped a Swiffer Pad, used to collect hive beetles, and all of the bees stuck on the pad fell, resulting in two stings on my ankle. Past years, smoke and gentle movements almost guaranteed the beekeeper being sting-free.
This season, our bees are very prone to attacking anyone and anything near their hives. It is nearly impossible to do simple yard work away from the hives without having "angry bees" aggressively fly in your face. "Angry bees" is the name we have given for honey bees that fly quickly and persistently around a specific person, sometimes being very hard to get rid of, and often resulting in stings.
Our bees attack metal hive tools, beekeeping gloves, suits, and even people not attempting to enter the hive. The bees do this to protect their hives, so if left alone and far from their hives, they will not act this way.
Summer hive inspections in Northern Virginia often mean extreme heat and humidity. Honey bees can become agitated due to many reasons including but not limited to: Heat, pests, lack of drinking water, queenlessness, and genetics.
Africanized honey bees, or "killer bees", resulted from a cross between Eastern African and Italian bees. Originally, the bees lived in a laboratory in Brazil, but escaped quarantine in 1957, spreading North. Africanized honey bees are more aggressive than other types of bees, but also produce more honey and are resistant to varroa mites.
Even if we have aggressive bees, at least they might survive and produce honey!
Comment below if you're interested in learning more about Africanized Honey Bees!