The hive is buttoned up for the winter, and now its warm again. 60's and 70's. I'm noticing in the afternoon, a small swarm of bees (maybe 30 or 40) around the entrance. None around the upper entrance.
It's a constant in and out of the hive, but staying near the entrance. Are these mine, or local's coming
to rob? Thanks for any advice here.
A sign is the robbing bees will be fought off at the entrance by your hive bees. Sometimes they will fight until they roll off the porch. A real knock down drag out fight.
Also afternoons are preferred times for robbers. Robbers won't stay... grab the goods and take off.
Did you feed just before you winterized?
I learned a lesson the hard way about pre emergency feeding. Feed when the temps remain low. Robbers are more inclined to stay in their own house that way.
My guess is your bees taking clensing flights. They have the chance to stretch their wings and use the facilities. As Mr.Beeman said you will know it when they are getting robbed. The fighting is pretty obvious.
Just because you have fighting at the entrance does not mean you are getting robbed. Robber bees will continually check to see if they can get in any hive during a dearth. When your hive fails to keep the robbers out then there is a problem. If a few robber get in get some honey and go back to their hive, they tell their sisters and a mob returns.
If your bees are not using the upper entrance then I would close it off. If you see a lot of bees trying to gain access and fighting I would also reduce the entrance. All mine are at about 6” and a few weaker ones about 1”
Robbers will smell their way to the entrance, along with wax moths and hive beetles. And there is lots this time of the year.