Question about robbing bees for all of you who can help: I went and picked up the newly acquired hive (the unworked for the past 5 years hive) that was given to me buy a business owner I met. These bees are, to say the least, feisty and spirited, probably due to some inbreeding for the past few years. Anyway, they are a little smaller than my other bees, so they are fairly easy for me to spot in the bee yard. I suspect they have been trying to rob my strongest hive because I see lots of dead little bees in front of this hive. I have been feeding the new bees heavily to help them get enough stores for winter, but they are agressive enough to try and get honey from the other hives anyway. Any suggestions on what I can do to prevent the loss of my new bees, or do I just let nature take its course? Or is there nothing I can do anyway? Do bees kill other bees trying to rob their hive, or is there something else going on? Thanks for any insight.
Yes they sometimes kill bees that are robbing. Usually they just wrestle around a lot and the defending bees drag them out of the hive. But sometimes they kill them.
The best thing is reduce the entrances to a minimum on all of the hives so they are defensible. If I have a hive being robbed badly, I might put a screened entrance on the hive being robbed and close it up for one day just to break the habit of the bees doing the robbing, but I don't do this unless it's pretty desperate.
Are you feeding in the hives that are being robbed? Maybe you shouldn't. The smell of honey or sugar may be attracting the other bees to try to rob them. You might try not feeding any of them for a few days and see how they respond.
Also if the hives that are being robbed are very close to the robbers, somtimes just moving them 10 feet further away or so helps.
Any change that can break the current habit of robbing will help some.
I believe the dead bees you are seeing are the ones from your hive that are being drug out and left at the entrance. They could be dieing from old age or be damaged by mites in the larvae.
Here is a new one for me. I'm tring it this year an so far it has worked well. Put a feeder (large one) out 100 or so ft from your hives. The worker/robbers are so busy going fo the feeder that they don't mess with the weaker hives. I've been told not to do this unless robbing has already started. The guy I know that does this uses a 5 gal. bucket for the feeder. I just came up with a 1/2 gal feeder kinda like the dog water bowles that you can buy. I made it out of wood, and use hard ware cloth for the bees to walk on.
My experience is that open feeders encourage robbing. Also the bees fight over the open feed and I end up feeding every wild, and domestic hive in a two mile radius.