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Thread: Stranger bees

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    250

    Default Stranger bees

    I have posted a couple of pictures to show what "my bees" look like and a "stranger bee" that I have seen at the hive entrance. I am pretty sure these are robbers but I am curious if anyone can tell me the race of the bee or if it belongs to some "generic" race of ferile bees. In case it is not clear in the photos, the stranger bee has noticably less hair on its thorax and a crescent shapped bump on the thorax near the abdomen (I think all of the bees have one of these but it is more pronounced with the lack of hair). The abdomen is darker and shinier on the gold/amber parts and the black near the stinger is more solid instead of in several distinct bands.

    http://www.villagephotos.com/pubbrow...der_id=2037899

    There is usually a disturbance where one or two of "mine" are working over the stranger. At times I have seen one of the stranger bees carried and flown a considerable distance away from the hive (pretty impressive feat!). I first noticed them a month or so ago when it was pretty hot and dry and there were a good number of them at my hive. We got that in control by reducing the entrance and with the start of a fall flow but occasionally there are still one or two of these that show up.

    I am not aware of any managed hives in the half mile or so surrounding my location but I know bees forage for much longer distances. Will they also rob in as large a radius as they forage or does robbing usually happen closer to home?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Jenison, MI
    Posts
    1,514

    Default

    A couple of things....

    1. Less hair and more pronounced color describes an older bee which has its hair worn off and its color more exposed. So these could be older bees, which get kicked out of the hive and carried off then they are too old. While it is pretty hard to tell from the picture, the stranger bee doesn't seem to have damaged wings, and old bees usually have damaged wings.

    2. They could be robber bees. I think it is easy to start robbing when hives are close togather, but I see no reason why they wouldn't start robbing a hive further away if there is no other nectar source and a sweet smelling hive hive.

    Color variations happen within a hive. There isn't a good way to distinguish breeds in bees, since all of the different types can have such a wide range of colors. Most of the bees that I have and the ones that I get are all generic with slightly different patterns and colors from hive to hive. I assume they are mostly Italians.

    Rick

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    250

    Default

    The wings seem fine and I have seen old bees that have lost hair and look kind of tattered. These girls just look sleek like there never was much hair. The fact that they are pretty consistently set upon, harassed, and teamed up on by "normal looking" bees makes me think they are not part of my colony.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Fresno California USA
    Posts
    2,496

    Default shiny bees

    When the guards team up on robbers the bad girls eventually end op hairless from the struggles. This is what you are seeing.

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