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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Upper Kingsclear, NB, Canada
    Posts
    73

    Default Robbing - leave screen on? How long?

    Last weekend I was watching my home-based hive from my living room window with binocs, as usual. Lots of bees - but one or two were darting at others as they came in. Watched closely. There were a few more apparent tussles going on. The incoming bees took on the appearance of a fleet of incoming fighter-bombers, weaving slightly but steadily entering the hive. I was sure this meant robbing was going on. I think it may have been going on for some days, as at the previous inspection I noted some completely empty frames and a lower number of bees, but I put this down to reduced brood rearing and that they had used up some of their supplies, it being late in the season and not much flowering.

    I made up an anti-robber screen with some #8 and strips of wood and fixed it over the entrance (this was at about 2 pm). Soon a mass of bees built up all over the lower part of the entrance -hundreds of them. Exiting bees were scrambling out steadily for a while then dwindled off. There were a lot of bees hanging about and crawling all over the hive the rest of the day. Later on some friendlies showed up with pollen loads but I did not intervene as there were obviously more robbers still there. Next morning no bees seen outside, so where they all went in the end I don't know. No bees were going in the screen valve. I did not block the upper entrance notch in the inner cover and a few bees probably went in there.

    Next day I left the screen on until an hour before dusk, then removed it to let the local bees get in. The past 2 days I have left the screen on 24/7, but I don't know if I should, or really what the state of play is now. If I take it off, will the robbers just start back up again? Or is leaving it on too much of a disadvantage to the home bees? I can't observe things in the week as I am at work. When I leave they have not come out, and when I'm back they're usually in for the day , so who knows what's happening.

    ideas appreciated -thanks,

    Rob

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Dixon, MO, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Robbing - leave screen on? How long?

    As long as the hive bees can figure out how to come and go, I'd leave it on. I really like them. I still have mine on. I will leave them on thru winter to keep mice out.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kaysville, Utah, USA
    Posts
    361

    Default Re: Robbing - leave screen on? How long?

    I left mine on all season. The bees didn't seem to mind.
    Don't provoke a hive full of angry bees.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: Robbing - leave screen on? How long?

    Once I got the message across to the robbers, they didn't come back. But if your hive is too weakened by the melee, leaving it on may be the best thing. The one I made I felt didn't work too well. Seemed too hard for the bees to figure out. Just be sure yours are actually able to USE it. I ended up using #8 wire crimped to a V (and folded over all pointed ends) and stuck that in the hive (pointy end in, of course!). I made several. One that completely enclosed te entrance. One just wide enough to let 1 bee in. Another just a bit wider to allow several at a time in. And then I just left the one on that is about half the opening. Like you, I work during the day and I wasn't confident to remove the screen till I got home for the first few days.

    Here's a link to great info on robbing. Great info on his site too, if you haven't been there.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: Robbing - leave screen on? How long?

    Quote Originally Posted by Splatt View Post
    I left mine on all season. The bees didn't seem to mind.
    The only thing I wonder about this is does it impede the growth of the hive. Dunno, just wondering. I mean, like during nectar flow, I get what looks like hundred of bees zipping in and out so fast you can barely see them. Leaving it on all season my make it harder to build up honey stores and pollen stores. And may even hinder them from undertaking, etc. As I said, I don't know this, I'm just thinking out loud.
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Imperial, MO, USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Robbing - leave screen on? How long?

    We had a severe drought and dearth here for over two months this summer, and the girls were pestering/robbing each other pretty consistently. I lost two hives of 18 because of this (as well as inattentive beekeeping - being on an extended vacation in the middle of it). I made robbing screens and just left them on through the end of the summer before removing them when I did fall preps... seemed to work quite well and didn't really impede their storing of nectar/pollen when we finally got some rain and plants started producing again.
    "Teach your kids to hunt and fish, and you won't have to hunt for your kids"
    Four Ridge Apiaries www.fourridgebees.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Upper Kingsclear, NB, Canada
    Posts
    73

    Default Re: Robbing - leave screen on? How long?

    thanks to all for the ideas.

    I 'm thinking I may reduce the protection in stages, by modifying my robber screen, which has two cross-baffles with a one-bee wide space (+/-) in each, to just one baffle for a day or 2, then leaving it off and observing as best I can. Although logically, if a stronger colony has sniffed mine out, they could do so again any day, and so I can't see why they would not start getting robbed again, unless the robber barons have found something even better or easier.

    I have Michael Bush's tome and reviewed it, and other refs I have, but there are always extra questions....

    The good thing is, my two out-apiary hives are doing well. Finally found out why -a farmer down the road has about 6 acres of buckwheat as a cover crop and it's in flower! I am sure they are working it flat out.

    Rob

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kaysville, Utah, USA
    Posts
    361

    Default Re: Robbing - leave screen on? How long?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seymore View Post
    The only thing I wonder about this is does it impede the growth of the hive.
    I don't think so. My hive got huge while it was on. For a while I had a screen with a 2-bee width opening in the top which I kept on for a month, or so. I then switched to an open-top screen, and they zip in and out of it just fine. I've seen a couple crash-land when trying to land on the side of it, but mostly they fly right in and either land straight down, or along the width of the landing board.

    Great signature, BTW.
    Don't provoke a hive full of angry bees.

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