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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Default robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    I planned to inspect my weak hive this a.m. to see if combining with my strong hive is the way to go. 1st thing, though: looked like there was a robbing event (2nd in 2 weeks).

    Per what I've been instructed for months in the event of robbing, I soaked a sheet and draped it over the hive, pushing away the alien bees as much as I could. Still, it looks as if the robber bees're just crawling under the sheet!

    The entrance is already reduced to about 1/2", so .... do I have any other options? [other than a flyswatter or can of RAID, I mean] .....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    The wet sheet method is unreliable at best, downright harmful at worst.

    If there has been 2 robbing events in 2 weeks you may be able to think of something that has caused these events, and remedy them? Also, any idea why the hive is weak? IE, if it is weakened by something like say, a heavy varroa mite population, you may not want to combine it with another hive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Mogollon Rim, Arizona 85933
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    465

    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    where's your anti robbing screen?
    that's your best bet to slow the situation a little.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Pitt, NC, USA
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    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    The wet sheet method is unreliable at best, downright harmful at worst.

    If there has been 2 robbing events in 2 weeks you may be able to think of something that has caused these events, and remedy them? Also, any idea why the hive is weak? IE, if it is weakened by something like say, a heavy varroa mite population, you may not want to combine it with another hive.
    OK -- no idea what caused the weakness in the 1st place, old-timer. I'm too new at this to be able to say. I think there was a swarm a month ago, and the population's dropped a lot otherwise. I don't see a big varroa problem. SHBs abound, though. I plan to treat this week. Need to check for sliming, etc.

    But .... back to the issue at hand. Why would a sheet be counterproductive? I hear the same suggestion advocating wet-sheet use from practically every source I access.

    Would it be worthwhile to simply close the entrance altogether (with screening) for the time-being?

    Thx ....

  5. #5
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    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidZ View Post
    where's your anti robbing screen?
    that's your best bet to slow the situation a little.
    Not sure what you mean -- is that the entrance reducer? I'm using one, and have part of the opening (via mesh/screen) down to 1/2". ...... ?

    My inner cover has a notch on it (for ventilation), and I see the alien bees crawling all over the underside of the outer cover, etc. Should I pull the outer cover back to -- maybe -- narrow the notch?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    3,175

    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Are you feeding?
    A robbing event that comes and goes sounds like feeding is the cause?
    Any additives in your feed?


    What is your goal for hive size for winter survival? If you can't meet it you may want to combine. A hive can't expand if it's continually robbed.

    Four frames of capped brood from a strong hive may get you there. Move the hive to a new location while the brood hatches. Robbers won't stop until every last drop of syrup/honey/bee milk is gone.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    Robeson County, North Carolina
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    565

    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Quote Originally Posted by mlanden View Post
    My inner cover has a notch on it (for ventilation), and I see the alien bees crawling all over the underside of the outer cover, etc. Should I pull the outer cover back to -- maybe -- narrow the notch?
    Yes. That notch is just another entrance. You need to close it off completely. Just slide your outer cover all the way up against it to close it. Ventilation is not your worry at this point.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    257

    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Mladden, it sounds like you are not using a robbing screen. That is your first and best line of defense. Search here for robbing screens or on your supplier's website. I have had robbing this year for no apparent reason and used the wet sheet with some success. A day of rain seems to stop them the best.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    You need a displaced-entrance robbing screen, so that you move the principal entrance point away from the landing board. Of course you keep the actual entrance reduced as well. Almost every bee supplier sells them. I use Betterbee's model, http://www.betterbee.com/wooden-hive...een-wooden.asp

    It comes in 8-frame size, too. See the dark thing in the picture on the upper left? That's a displaced entrance. This model also has an entrance you can use on the bottom right, for other reasons. But under severe robbing pressures I use only the displaced entrance and pair it with a reduced entrance located at extreme right side of the landing board. That way would be robbers have to make themselves very vulnerable to enter the hive. Few of them live to to tell the tale.

    The wet sheet thing is next to useless in my experience, perhaps useful in the first half hour or so when you first discover robbing to buy you time to put other measures in place.

    Any reduction (wet sheet, reduced entrance, robbing screen) will initially baffle many house bees so there will be a lot of home bees milling often frantically around on the outside making the scene look more chaotic than it actually is. And if you are in a hot area you may see more bearding outside, too, adding to the crowds.

    As others have pointed out, the question of why this colony is vulnerable needs to be addressed.

    Screen the notch in the inner cover. Heck, screen the central hole in the inner cover.

    Having had one event as a warning, you missed the chance to protect your hive from another attack. But it is not too late to stop more attacks. I think robbing screens ought to be sold with every bottom board, the way entrance reducers are. I don't see them as optional equipment, you might possibly need some day. I use them frequently, not because I have a lot of robbing but because I don't want to have any. As soon as my nectar flow slows down, on go the screens. I do this even on my huge strong hives because I'm not interested in wasting a single bee's life or even attention from regular duties. And I want to discourage any strange bees from visiting and bringing in varroa.

    Enj.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Champaign, Illinois
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    1,540

    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Don't have time to watch em all so I take precautions early. When I notice the flow tapering off the entrances get reduced and that's all I'm doing about robbing. The beards are epic.
    So far I've only had one get robbed out but it was because of shb infestation that I caught but not quick enough to save the bees. They took off. Empty bee hives get robbed. Sheets and screens won't matter at that point.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    51,336

    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Make sure it's not an orientation flight. Local bees will not give up and will find their way in. Robbers can be pretty tenatious but are not as good at finding a difficult entrance, which is why robbing screens work.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm

    If it IS robbing then stop it one way or the other. Screen the entrance off completely until the robbers go home. Then open it up just enough for two bees to pass or even one bee get in or out.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Pitt, NC, USA
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    224

    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Living and learning -- more or less.

    To Planter: I fed my weak hive 3 weeks ago (they had nothing in their frame feeder; 1.5 gal). A week later, checked it again -- only down 1/5 gal, but with lots of dead bees in the 2 reservoirs. That's bound to have meant something. No additives in the sugar-water. My strong hive s/b able to get through winter easily on its own, but the weak hive -- no way. Combination (depending on what I see at tomorrow's inspection), may be worth a try.

    Cervus -- gonna close that notch in a few minutes; should've done it this a.m.! I was in panic-mode then, what with the stupid wet sheet.

    enjambres, et al: thx re: the info on the anti-robber screen. Oddly enough, I've never heard of that animal. Something else to put on my to-do list for today -- screening the openings.

    Tomorrow, the inspection day; was going to be today, but I missed the window for bearable-heat inspection. Once again, the local bee guru who told me he'd come by to help .... didn't, and once again, my mentor was out of town. It's gotta be a sink-or-swim effort on my part .....

  13. #13
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    May 2016
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    Robeson County, North Carolina
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    565

    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Quote Originally Posted by mlanden View Post
    It's gotta be a sink-or-swim effort on my part .....
    Nah, excluding myself, you've got some heavy-hitters that have posted here. They got yer back! Pay particular attention to what MB says. Orientation flights sometimes look like all heck has broken loose. In a pinch, you can make a robbing screen by just bending hardware cloth into a "V" that extends the whole length of the bottom board, and friction fit between the bottom board and the the hive body. Just leave the two ends (the pointy part of the "V") open just enough for a bee to fit through. Make it so small that the drones have to grunt and inhale deeply to fit through!
    Last edited by cervus; 08-10-2016 at 10:22 AM. Reason: wrong terminology

  14. #14
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    Jun 2016
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    Pitt, NC, USA
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    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    [QUOTE=cervus;1461093]Nah, excluding myself, you've got some heavy-hitters that have posted here. They got yer back! Pay particular attention to what MB says. Orientation flights sometimes look like all heck has broken loose. QUOTE]

    Funny -- thx (and I'm pretty sure, not excluding you].

    The reason I felt it was robbing -- the bees were clambering onto the sides/back of the hive and seemed to wanna go under the outer cover [exploring?]. And too, I saw some fighting going on at the entrance -- and when I looked at the hive a few hrs ago to screen the inner cover, I saw a # of dead bees at the entrance. Once again, lots of sugar water still in the frame feeder, but loads of dead bees floating in the 2 reservoirs. Weird .....

    I glanced at 2 frames in the upper deep -- segments of comb gone to the foundation, although there were areas of capped honey at the top corners of the 2 frames. Tomorrow I'll do a thorough inspection (if there's no robbery going on, for God's sake) and take notes on every single frame's side. I think too I'll remove the frame feeder. Maybe that's just a draw for robbers? It doesn't seem to be used now anyhow, and (per cervus) our dearth is ending, so .... there's hope.

    I hope you guys're having better experiences .....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Pepperell, MA.
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    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    I tried a sheet once. Can't even remember how messy it was. A good rain helped. Not that we have control over that but I'd work hard on screening and reducing first.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
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    5,355

    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Reduced entrance, robber screen, and get rid of the feeder. Feeders cause robbing in weak hives.

  17. #17

    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Weak hive in a nectar dearth....has already experienced two robbing events in two weeks. This isn't going to be solved with robber screens or wet sheets. Time to cut losses...in my opinion.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Pitt, NC, USA
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    224

    Default Re: robbing versus the wet sheet -- who really wins?

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    Weak hive in a nectar dearth....has already experienced two robbing events in two weeks. This isn't going to be solved with robber screens or wet sheets. Time to cut losses...in my opinion.
    Do you think it would be an idea to maybe merge all decent frames (if any) from the weak hive's 2 deeps into 1 deep and later combine that with my strong hive? [depending on if I don't see evidence of sliming or something else big]. Or .... ?

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