A fair number of the feral cutouts I did this season showed obvious comb failure due to SHB. In every case there were several large pieces of comb that had fallen to the bottom of the cavity. In every case like this I noticed that there were a number of house bees patrolling this empty comb and corralling adult SHB there. There were almost no adult SHB in the active portions of comb. When I moved these colonies into standard hives, after some time I discovered that they would do the same thing. They seemed to designate a single frame of comb on one far edge of the hive and leave it entirely empty. When I inspected the hive, I would find this piece of comb completely crawling with adult SHB being corralled by a pretty good number of bees and almost no adult SHB anywhere else in the hive. They seemed particularly inclined to do this if I put one empty fully drawn plastic comb (like permacomb or HSC) on one edge of the hive. It seems that it may be easier for them to keep them corralled inside cells. I don't know what eventually becomes of the adult SHB, but I do know that when these colonies were weak immediately after the cutout, they were able to keep the SHB at bay even during the August dearth (I did not feed any of them during this time) and have now recovered to a pretty good strength during the fall flow. Anyone else observed similar behavior?
Yeah, I've seen that too. They seem to have corralled the SHB on the outtermost frame and pretty much only on that one.
I wonder why they do that. If they can chase them all to one edge, why can't they chase them out of the hive altogether?
I think its because the SHB, in an attempt to stay in the hive, run away from the entrance (light). I do have a couple of feral hives that instead of corralling them, actually ferry them out of the hive and I have not observed much of the corralling behavior. The effect is pretty much the same, very few adult SHB on the active combs and a certain percentage of the work force dedicated to full-time SHB control. I had some bees last year that just ignored the adult SHB completely and it did not take long for the colony to succumb to them. I am glad to see that this years bees seem to recognize them as a threat and have developed some behavior to mitigate them.
Originally Posted by Troy
Different colonies seem to have widely varying reactions too.
Some will just ignore them, some give a half hearted run at the SHB and then give up and then I have seen a few that get into a knock down drag out with them.
I have seen a bee grab a beetle and curl herself up around the thing in an attempt to peel them off whatever surface they are on. She is biting it and trying to get one side of her legs under the darn thing. I have not seen what they do if they get them loose though. I presume they'd carry them out of the hive.