Never seen robbing before just read discriptions and seen them rob out some equipment before... but I think I had a robbing going on today. Listen to this and tell me what you think...
Situation: Fairly strong yet young but was a Nuc until early July and then was put into 8 frame Deep and fed. Then another Medium as added and continued to feed. Now got two Medium 8 frames over it and had built comb in the first Medium before the second was added. But not much buit there in that one yet. Flow is faded. They finding something but its not great. Still feeding. Seemed fewer bees on the landing board the last week. But its hard to tell as its been a tad cooler. Was plenty of bees in there two weeks back when I opened it up to check on progress of that top Medium to see if I could stop feeding. Wasn't so I continued.
About 5:30 PM today. Temps in the mid 80's. Sunny day for the most part.
Clouds of bees that appear to be orienting. At least similar circular patterns. A couple of dying bees in the front of the hive. Not a lot. Two or three at most. Not a lot of fighting between bees that I could see. Maybe posturing and flying about but some coming and leaving like normal but still there had to be a hundred or so in the air around the entrance. But as I watched some bees would go right in and crawl on in as normal to the back. But some would go right to the entry feeder area. So to me and my inexperienced eye...there was a group acting like they were robbing the feeder, not the hive itself. At least that's the idea I got just using logic. I don't know any other reason why bees would fly in just to go TO the feeder do you? Because bees are supposed to fly OUT to do that and bring stuff back. Not come from out and go to feeder and leave. I at least am thinking this. It would be Robbers I would think... or as Elmer said... wobbers.
I watched for 15 minutes and the activity seemed to subside but yet there was still a group going to the feeder and then those that appeared to belong coming and going. Just not as frantic and numerous as before.
So here is what I did. I put on the Golden Bee suit real quick as this whole thing had died down (at least for the time being) and I got my entrance reducer and I went back out there, no smoke as I just did not take time, and I pulled the feeder and stuck in the reducer. Not reduced to the smallest hole. To the wider one. Which is like less than 1/4 opening. And left it like that. Bees were stacking up outside in the traffic jam when I last looked.
Think this was the right thing to do? I plan to just let them go like that a week or so. And not feed them again until something is flowing again.
I just wanted to build them up as much as possible and the flow was good up until about three weeks ago. But I continued to feed them hoping it would not trigger this. But it seems it probably did and I had to react.
What say ye bee peeps?
sounds like robbing to me. you might reduce it further or add a robbing screen. good move to stop feeding.
I am having trouble with robbing right now too. NOt unusual this time of year.
If you have some screen, try making up a robbing screen, it is the best solution IMO. You can keep the entrance open and permit more ventilation while still stopping them.
Well I have just the reducer handy. I could flip it to the smallest opening. But I was hoping there are enough bees to defend the large one so they could get some ventilation. I think that opening is about two to 2 1/2 inches wide? The other one is probably an inch at best.
I don't know if I have any of the right size screen. I have a screen door. The kind that traps them completely. I suppose if I could find some of the right hardware cloth I could adapt that to it.
I do have a SBB under there so I do have some ventilation and can prop open the top a bit too.
What was a sort of supise to me was they appear to be robbing the feeder and not the hive proper. At least from best I could tell. I suspect the defense line had formed back there and was and has been able to stem them off... and they are satisfied just to be able to command the front left and the Feeder. They getting what they came for so why bother? And if so thats probably good. The hive itself should have maintained itself intact to some degree.
[size="1"][ August 26, 2006, 06:56 PM: Message edited by: cphilip ][/size]
I would reinstall the feeder at dark. Use any kind of stick to reduce the entrance to where I had a 1 in. entrance opposite the feeder. I would than check it around 9 to 10 am tommorrow. If it is robbing, you will see the same situation as today. If it is young bees orientating, the hive will be back to normal in the AM.
Then if you find that it is robbing, remove the feeder and use the very small entrance until you can build a robber screen.
I found it odd that it was fairly quite down there all early part of today too. But I just may not have noticed anything. I was busy with other stuff. Just decided to look down there and saw the activity this evening.
It did somewhat resemble orienting.
However the group of bees that seemed to be going in straight to the feeder was what made me think it might be a couple different things going on at one time complicating the diagnosis.
Its almost dark now. I am going to stroll down there and see whats going on now and report back.
Well things seem calm. There are perhap 20 bees cleaning the board. And a bee flying in or out uncontested periodicaly. Perhaps every full minute or two. There is still enough light for perhaps another half hour to do so. But the gang activity seems to have gone.
Does robbing occur in spurts like that at periods of the day? And only for a period? Because I have not noticed a large intake of Syrup beyond what they had been taking previously. But it might be that the numbers on the board are somewhat reduced the last week. I do not see a lot of dead bees out front. However ants would probably clean them up I guess. They seem to be able to work with reducer on its wider setting. I estimate thats 3 inches if that much. Whatever a normal wide setting is.
Your post describes EXACTLY what happened to me today. Usually there are about 10 bees on the bottom board at any one time coming and going, but the front of the hive was awfully crazy busy. I observed what was happening (as you did) for about 5 minutes, and then I got nervous. I noticed 2 things that made me suspect robbing in addition to the increase in activity.
1) there were bees crawling out of from the inside of the hive, and up the front before they flew off which I have read is a sign of a robber.
2) There were some bees in my garden that I didn't exactly recognize.
Now granted I have only had my bees about 5 wks now. So, I don't know them by name and birthdate. But I remembered a different picture in my head. So, I too ran inside on full alarm, yelled to my husband "get the entrance reducer, we're being robbed!" and I quickly pulled on my suit. I also did not have my smoker ready. When I got there, I put the reducer in and it was immediately covered in bees. Probably about 100 or so. They were pretty aggravated with me, especially this one bee that circled my hat/veil loudly. When I was done I had to walk about 150ft from the hive to get them to stop flying at my suit! While I was there, I did notice that there was no fighting. And there were plenty of field bees coming in full of pollen. So, I'm just really confused about what's going on. Here is some more information that might help solve this mystery.
1) I recently did my first inspection about 3 days ago. I had the hive open for a very long time because it was my first time, and I've heard that can cause trouble. We have been using a pail feeder to feed the bees because we got started so late in the season. When my husband refilled the feeder, he tipped it upside down to create the vacuum, and sugar water got all over the ground. We added the second deep hive body for the bees to begin drawing out the comb. Because of this, there was a gap between the inner cover and the outer cover where the feeder sat, but no way to access the syrup, and none was spilled on the inner cover. I'm sure. (The gap is now filled by an empty super)
2) Do you guys think this could have anything to do with the golden rod season? I have heard a lot of conversation about goldernrod, and have noticed it blooming full force in the yard.
It's confusing because there was no fighting. Not even a hint of it, but I have recently heard stories of colonies being to weak to fight back. Though, when I opened up the hive, there seemed to be plenty of healthy bees! Thanks for any input you might have. It's so difficult to tell the difference from one behavior to the next when you have so little experience with the girls.
Let's BEE friends
Orientation flights take place in the PM. Robbing takes place all day. Using this as a rule, not absolute fact, you can usually tell robbing by closing down the entrance until night, then opening it and checking in the AM.
A couple of differences... Not that its important
I did see some evidence of fighting. Just not as much hand to hand combat as I had imagined I might. More of this furious flying stuff.
I am front feeding so I had the advantage of seeing were they seemed to be going. At least some of them. I could not be certain they were this hives bees because I have another hive about 200 yards away and its a stronger hive. So it could have been my own fellow hive doing it. However some of them did seem a tad darker wereas most of mine are "yellower". However I have seen darker strains mixed within both these hives. I assume mating from a slightly different drone and variation within the colony. So it is hard for me to tell if they are from this colony or not. Or my other colony or not (I think I will have a board meeting with them tomorrow if so) Or if they are a wild colony that sprung from Italian stock recently and live nearby.
I did NOT go running into the house yelling at my wife. She would have crocked me with a frying pan!
"Orientation flights take place in the PM. Robbing takes place all day. Using this as a rule, not absolute fact, you can usually tell robbing by closing down the entrance until night, then opening it and checking in the AM."
This is what perplexed me about this whole thing. It does not follow that pattern. I have seen orientation flights many times and this one had more charicteristics of that. And since I did not see enough combat I was suspicious. But the bees going directly to the feeder were what got me worried.
Its about dark now so I am going back down and do as you advise. Got to go see if I can make me up a stick.