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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    cincinnati, ohio
    Posts
    81

    Default How to stop robbing

    I ghave seven hives in my backyard with about 10 feet spacing between them. My hive No. 5 was weaker than the rest because of a poor-laying queen and I was not sure if it would make it through the winter. Yesterday, and this morning, there was a frenzy of robbing with bees all over the hive and going in and out. There is also a lot of active at hive No. 4 next to it. No. 4 is a very strong hive.

    I tried to smoke No. 5 heavily yesterday afternoon, but it really did not stop much of the activity. I did add an entrance reducer. I checked at 8:00 this morning and the robbing has already started.

    Is there anyway to stop it? Should I assume the queen and bees in the hive have been killed already or are the other bees just stealing honey and not attacking the bees in the hive? What should I try with the stronger hive No. 4 so I do not lose it?

    Thanks for any help? - Jim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Bon Aqua, TN
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    I have heard from very reliable 4th generation beeks that you take the tops off all the hives for a couple of hours. Each hive gets so worried about losing their own, that the robbing ceases-they go back to taking care of their own business. Of course, if the robbers are from outside your yard, that is another issue. I have only had your situation happen a few times, and I thought they were a small colony of feral bees trying to thieve...they were fought off. On the other hand, it IS all about survival of the fittest. Anyone else weigh in here?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Indiana, Clay County
    Posts
    568

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    I just started open feeding , and it took the pressure off my weak hive, but I only have 2x hives to deal with not 7. Maybe pinch the queen and combine ???

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    First, close it off completely with screen. I've never tried the "wet sheet" method, but that's been touted as a pretty good method of blocking the robbers. After the robbers finally give up and go home, you need to poke a hole in the screen just big enough for one bee to get in and out.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,789

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    In addition to what Michael Bush said, also move the hive being robbed to a new stand, leaving an empty hive box with one frame of open nectar/honey in it's place as a decoy. The robbing bees won't be as apt to search for the moved hive if you leave a bait decoy in place for them to finish robbing out.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Stockton, CA
    Posts
    311

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    I have the same trouble going on right now with a hive. I went and checked on my hives a couple days ago and found 4 out of 50 were empty and had wax moth damage really bad. I left them open and laid the frames out hoping that some birds would eat them. I think this started the robbing but I'm not sure. There's not much to eat right now and I was planning on open feeding them to focus their attention on plus moving the hive sounds like a good idea tonight.

    P.S.
    This happened before in the spring and I thought it was a swarm trying to take over a hive so I brushed as many bees off the hive as I could and put them into a empty hive body with a frame of caped honey I pulled from another hive. The strange thing is it's now a great hive, tons of bees and honey and filled up two deeps.

    Thank you guys for the great ideas.


    I have a couple questions:

    I have suppers on right know and was hoping to pull them off to harvest the honey and to treat for mites. Is it safe right now with robbing going on? Should I put Honey b healthy stuff in the feed I use?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    S Hadley, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    690

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    A simple but effective way is to rip some grass out of the ground and place the clump at the hive entrance held in place by a rock. The hive bees will find a way in and the robbers will give up after awhile. Works good in a pinch since I never bring all the supplies I need to the beeyard.
    Pearl City Apiary Michael and Loucil Bach

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    The point is, first you have to stop them or they will not only rob them out, they will kill them and kill the queen. If no bee can get in and come back with a load of honey they will give up. It may take a few hours, but they will. Some will check back now and then, though, hence the need to reduce it down to a "pass at Thermopylae where numbers count for nothing".
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    EL Paso, Wisconsin
    Posts
    115

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    First, close it off completely with screen. I've never tried the "wet sheet" method, but that's been touted as a pretty good method of blocking the robbers. After the robbers finally give up and go home, you need to poke a hole in the screen just big enough for one bee to get in and out.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm
    i have tried the wet sheet method, it does work, HOWEVER, i went to using the screen method, as michael said, it does work well, and i think a little better, a sheet dries out in a few hours, and sometimes not long enough for the robbers to forget and give up, and also who carries a sheet around with them? screen is easier to carry, i put it on with the metal duct tape.
    michael is also right about robbing the hive out completely, alot of dead bees, and a dead queen.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Stockton, CA
    Posts
    311

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    Ok guy's Thank you for your help and great ideas. I got a chance tonight to go check if their were any bees worth trying to save. Nope, I split the box apart and looked and saw maybe 20 bees between the two boxes. There were more hanging out on the hive then there were in it. So what to do now with the equipment? I have 45 hives left. I plan on pulling the suppers and reducing the entrances. After that I'm planning on doing a full hive inspection and treat using Apigaurd and Terra Pro. Then I planned on also feeding them to top them off for the year. I have someone counting on me to pollinate his small almond orchard next year and he's needing 42 of them so I have my fingers crossed.

    How does this sound?

    Mike

    P.S. The bees live in French Camp, CA and I live in Stockton, CA. if it matters.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    EL Paso, Wisconsin
    Posts
    115

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    better to save your equipment than 20 bees, brush them out, close it up, store the equipment if you can. someone in your climate will have to answer the rest of your questions.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,778

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    Can you take your small hives down to small nucs? Do they still have queens? If not, can you add the bees to another hive? (I'm learning, not a pro)

    Gypsi
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,899

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    Late this summer when the main flow was over and before robbing starting getting out of hand, I made sure I had some wet supers and cappings set outside about 75 yards from my hives so that it would distract the robbers. It worked really well, attracted lots of yellow jackets and bald faced hornets too and gave them something to do instead of bothering my hives so much. But now that I have run out of wet supers and cappings I noticed that the yellow jackets and hornets are starting to hang out more around my hives again.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,778

    Default Re: How to stop robbing

    yellow jacket trap time.
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

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