Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: robbing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    merrimack nh usa
    Posts
    7

    Default robbing

    Hello,
    Sunday morning there were bees flying all over the field unusually, and on checking the hives, I found alot of bees crawling around and piling up all over one hive. I've not much experience (5 months, first 2 new packages this spring), but it was clear we were getting robbed. There was frenzied behavior and dead bees and fighting. We reduced the entrances of the two hives, and covered them with wet sheets. Sunday night we removed the sheets and shook off the bees, as we did not know if we had locked some robbers in, then replaced the sheets before the bees were up the next (Monday) morning. Bees were flying all around the hives all day yesterday (Monday) and we left the sheets on overnight. This morning there are many bees again, but I'm not sure how to tell if they are our bees at this point, and whether it's safe to remove the sheets. Thank you for any advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Default Re: robbing

    Do a search at the top of the page for "robber screen" simple and easy to make,works good.
    Keep the entrances to the smallest opening helps too.
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Whitsett, NC
    Posts
    489

    Default Re: robbing

    What is robbing?
    Robbing is a term used to describe honey bees that are invading another hive and stealing the stored honey. The robbing bees rip open capped cells, fill their honey stomachs, and ferry the goods back home. They will fight the resident bees to get to the stores and many bees may die in the process.

    When does robbing occur?
    Robbing can occur anytime during the year, but it is most evident in the late summer or early fall, especially during a nectar dearth. Robbing can often be seen in the early spring as well, most frequently before the first major honey flow.

    Why does robbing occur?
    Honey bees are compulsive hoarders. They will collect nectar or honey from any source they can find, and that includes a poorly guarded or weak hive. Personally, I think “looting” is a better description because, like human looters, they tend to prey on the weak and vulnerable, especially a hive with a problem.

    Think of it like this: It is a hot August afternoon. It hasn’t rained in weeks. The flowers are long past their peak and the few that remain are crispy. A gang of bored workers with too much time and not enough to do is hanging out, looking for trouble. Suddenly, one of the gang picks up on a scent . . . sweet! It’s coming from a nearby hive where the beekeeper has spilled some syrup. A few scouts check it out and believe they can overpower the lethargic guard bees lounging in the heat. Within minutes the dancers post directions on CombBook and the siege is on.

    How can I recognize robbing?
    Sometimes a weak hive will suddenly come to life. You, a new beekeeper, are ecstatic because a hive you thought was dying is now thrumming with activity—bees are everywhere. You think the colony has finally turned itself around. But when you go back the next day, no one is home. The honey frames have been stripped clean, bees lie dead on the ground, and the small colony is decimated.

    At other times, the signs are more subtle:

    Fighting bees tumble and roll—sometimes on the landing board, sometimes in the air.
    Dead bees lie on the landing board or on the ground in front of the hive.
    Robbing bees can often be seen examining all the cracks and seams in a hive, even at the back and sides.
    Robbing bees are often accompanied by wasps that are attracted to the dead bees as well as the honey.
    Some of the bees in the fray may appear shiny and black. This appearance is created when the bees lose their hair while fighting. Both attackers and defenders may have this appearance.
    Robbing bees never carry pollen on their legs.
    Robbing bees often sway from side to side like wasps, waiting for an opportunity to enter the target hive.
    Pieces of wax comb may appear on the landing board as the robbers rip open new cells.
    Robbing bees are louder than normal bees.
    Because robbing bees are loaded down with honey when they leave the target hive, they often crawl up the wall before they fly away and then dip toward the ground as they take off. This may not be immediately obvious, but if you study them for a while, you can see it.

    What can I do to prevent robbing?
    It is much more effective to anticipate robbing and take preventive measures than to try to stop it once it starts. Here are some strategies that may work—at least some of the time.

    Reduce entrances at the first sign of a nectar dearth. Bees can successfully defend their hive if they have a large enough population and a small enough entrance.
    Many beekeepers have observed that Italian bees rob more often than other sub-species. If you keep Italians, you should be more vigilant.
    It appears that queenless hives are more vulnerable to robbing than queenright hives. Make sure all your hives are queenright as robbing season approaches.
    Entrance feeders seem to promote robbing more than other feeders, probably because the food source is so near the hive opening. Use some other type of feeder during nectar dearths.
    Small or weak hives are particularly vulnerable. Consider combining such hives before a nectar dearth.
    Commercial robbing screens are highly effective devices that allow the resident bees to get in and out while discouraging the robbers. These can be especially valuable for use on weaker hives that you do not want to combine.

    What can I do to stop it?
    Once it starts, stopping a robbing frenzy is not easy.

    Smoking will not stop robbing, but it will give you a reprieve while you close up the hive. Get the smoker going and set it next to the hive while you work.
    Reduce entrances to a very small opening. Some beekeepers stuff grass in the entrance—a technique that keeps out the robbers but allows some airflow.
    If robbing is really intense, you can simply close up the hive opening with hardware cloth or screen in a size the bees cannot get through (#8 or #10 work well). Close up the hive completely for several days until the robbers give up. If necessary, be sure to provide feed, pollen, water, and ventilation for the confined colony.
    A water-saturated towel thrown over the hive confuses the robbers but allows the hive residents to come and go from underneath the towel. Evaporation from the towel keeps the hive cool.
    Install a robbing screen. This device re-routes the hive residents through an alternative entrance while the robbing bees, following the scent from the hive, continue to butt into the screen.
    Some beekeepers spread a commercial product such as Vicks Vaporub at the entrance to the colony. This product contains strong-smelling compounds such as camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol that mask the hive odor and confuse the robber bees.
    Some beekeepers recommend removing the lids from all the hives in the apiary. The theory is that the bees become so busy defending their own hives that they stop robbing other hives. However, if the robber bees are coming from somewhere other than your own apiary, it won’t work. Also, it will do nothing to stop wasps and other predators from entering your hives at will. This is not a good strategy for an inexperienced beekeeper.

    You can also move the hive a mile or two away if that is an option.
    Just some thoughts.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    merrimack nh usa
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: robbing

    thank you so much, on my way back out to the field

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,391

    Default Re: robbing

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm

    It is the time of year that robbing often breaks out, but they are also testing and checking.

    One issue is being sure they are being robbed. Sometimes people mistake an afternoon orientation flight with robbing. Every warm, sunny afternoon during brood rearing you'll see young bees orienting. They will hover and fly around the hive. This is easily mistaken for robbers who also hover around a hive. But with practice you'll learn what young bees look like doing this. Young bees are fuzzy. Young bees are calm compared to robbers. Look at the entrance. Robbers are in a frenzy. Local bees might have a traffic jam at the entrance but they will still be orderly. Wrestling at the entrance is pretty much a give away, but lack of fighting at the entrance does not prove they are not being robbed, it just proves they have overcome the guard bees. One SURE way to tell if they are being robbed is to wait for dark and close the entrance. Any bees in the morning who show up trying to get in are probably robbers. Especially if there are a lot of them.

    If you have robbing you need to stop it immediately! Damage progresses quickly and can devastate a hive. Just make sure they are robbing and not orienting first, then if it’s robbing, do something drastic. Close off the hive, cover it with wet cloth. Open all the strong hives to make the strong hives stay home and guard their own hives. But do something even if it’s as simple as closing off the hive with screen wire completely. Then you can assess what you want to do to let them fly (small entrance, robber screen etc.). Bottom line, you cannot let robbing continue. You need to stop it now.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    merrimack nh usa
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: robbing

    Thank you very much. What clued me in was the robbers were bearded up all over the hive, as if they didn't know how to get in, with much frenzy and fighting, and bees flying all around and even behind the hive. We did the above and reduced the entrance and covered them with wet sheets. The robbers came back the next morning, and possibly the next, but I wasn't sure. I was uneasy about removing the sheets the third day as there were many bees still, but we guessed that the bees flying around were ours, just trying to get back in, slowed by the sheets. Everything seems fine since, but I haven't gone into the hives to check the damage. Thought we should let them calm down a few days, then the weather was cold and rainy for a few days. I am worried about damage this time of year and I imagine I should go in and check first good warm day. I appreciate all the advice.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    294

    Default Re: robbing

    I too have noticed that robbers tend to beard. In my experience, robbers are also more violent (more likely to chase you) than normal bees. They will also often crawl around more quickly than other bees. If you reduce the entrance enough they will usually be able to defend themselves, in my experience at least, but if they are very weak they could be robbed anyway. That is usually what I do, since I have neither hardware cloth or a robber screen. Like others I have also seen them observe the cracks and have seen wax at the entrance.


    Nathan
    Good enough is perfect - Joel Salatin

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,391

    Default Re: robbing

    If you see bearding and fighting this may be a usurpation where a swarm tries to take over a colony.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Hoboken, NJ
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: robbing

    What size woven wire cloth screen can be used at robber screens? Anyone ever measure or have any good ideas on this? Was thinking possibly a 6 x 6 wire cloth mesh? ( http://www.bwire.com/index.html ) any idea if this # 6 will work? Do I need something larger or finer?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Default Re: robbing

    anything smaller than 8, i often use widow screening.
    P.S. that wasn't very clear anything 8 and smaller will work
    Last edited by mike haney; 10-22-2012 at 11:34 PM.
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
    Posts
    874

    Default Re: robbing

    002.jpg
    001.jpg

    I use #8
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: robbing

    This thread is very helpful! I am currently trying to identify if my hive is being robbed. It is nearly dark and out of my 4 hives one is still very active. It is about 10 degrees out now and all other hives are quiet- tucked up for the night! This one has lots of bees coming and going from the hive. Earlier today was fairly warm and all hives were active, bringing in pollen. It seems strange that they would behave this way when it is almost dark. Do you think this sounds like robbing? Wouldn't robbers return to their own hive at night? I am thinking of shutting up the hive with screen and waiting to see if bees are trying to get in in the morning to I'd if robbing is occurring. I thought this was a strong hive so I'm so disappointed.
    Thanks
    Q

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads