I have a question about what to do about what looks like some robber bee's at my hives. Some background info first. I have removed all my supers from the hives for the winter and was feeding them sugar syrup and some left over honey inside an empty deep super on top of my three hives. When I went out to check on the hives last evening I noticed our calf had knocked off one of the empty supers and spilled the sugar syrup. I refilled the container and closed out the hive. today when I checked on them there are lots of bee's hovering around the hives all three of them. They land on the hives and are looking for any cracks to try and get in. There is a real battle going on out there with several hundred dead out in front of the hives. My question after all of that ranting, is there anything I should do or just try and keep the holes plugged as best as I can and hope for the best? All three hives are good and strong and seem to be holding there own. Thanks for any info and having these boards to come to for advice.
What can you do. The bees found free food. The push is on for winter stores, and a freebie is a freebee. The calf knocking over the super, and free honey being available, only invited robbing. But as long as you bees are strong they will protect there own. Also, when it becomes apparent that the robbers are getting nowhere with robbing, I would imagine it will stop, to a noticable extent. Then things should get back to normal. Give it a day or two.
[This message has been edited by Admin (edited September 23, 2002).]
About all you can do is make sure there are no cracks for the robbers to get in and the main entrance is an appropriate size to the traffic of the colony. If it's too large to defend it will be more difficult for the defenders. If it's too small then it will be more difficult for the defenders.
Place bunches of grass over the entrance of the hive being robbed. This will close down the entrance, giving this hive an easier time defending it, and in time the bees will clear the grass as needed. A good fast way to deal with this problem.
I have tried actually closing the hive all together. This is not a good idea in really hot weather and a sunny location, but when you have moderate weather and the hive is in the shade you can get away with it for a day. If you close it up for a day the robber bees get tired of trying to get in and go away for a while. They may come back, but they may not.
Don't do this for more than a day. The hive needs to be able to get water for cooling, and pollen on a regular basis.
This works better if you have screened entrance gaurd designed for moving bees. I've bought them from Brushy Moutnain Bee.
Since you don't have time right now to get one, you might try closing it off altoghether. If you close it before light in the morning and open it in late afternoon you may find the robbers have given up for a while anyway.
I have a hive that is not what I call "weak" but has smaller numbers because it was a very late season acquisition. The bees in this hive are actually pretty feisty and tough. I was having problems with bees from a wild colony plus another one of my hives trying to rob this hive a couple of weeks ago, and I placed an entrance reducer with just the small opening exposed. It did the trick and still allowed the bees from that hive the ability to go and collect pollen.
I recentlh had a hive with a full feeder knocked over and started some robbing. when I righted the hive I reduced the entrance at the bottom and closed off the top entrances but this didnot stop the robbing. Then I took out the water hose and soaked down the area (washed down) and within 3 hours the robbing stoped
Thanks to everyone for your replies. I went out and reduced the entrance to the hives to the smallest setting about one inch size hole. The robbing seems to have slowed a lot. And it looks like things are getting back to normal. Thanks for all the ideas. Sure is nice to know I am not the only one with these problems! Also to be able to come here for advice.