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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    610

    Default Honey robbing from one hive to another - how much of an emergency is it?

    I have a few hives of newly-hived, feral-ish, swarm bees.

    One hive is apparently sending bees to another nearby one to in what looks to be honey robbing.

    The "victim" hive is smaller, not fully focused to the hive (they are not completetly in their hive, yet, and the queen may still be among the remaining, small, unhived-cluster). Though it has brood comb that it is caring for. Unfortunately during the hiving, two of the frames were replaced with a big section of honeycomb. Good for food to build up the hive, but too attractive, I think, to other nearby hives. Today I noticed that one of the nearby hives had bees leaving the victim hive and heading straight to the entrance of the "robber" hive. Bad, bad, girls!

    Just now I opened the victim hive thinking I would take out the brood frames and put them in another deep and use a Varoa screen bottom as a temp bottom to the hive while I scrape and clean out the dumped-in honey comb in the original deep and bottom. Since the victim hive probably doesn't have much (if any) stored in its own combs yet, I thought this might work by removing what the robbers are seeking before they become hardened felons.

    However when I looked inside, the big blob of honeycomb has been attached to the side of one of the frames with new comb and propolis. At least it's not leaking honey out the front of the hive any more. But still, it strikes me as bad beekeeping practice to leave it in.

    The victim hive seems to have lots of bees in among the combs. I just added a super (above the single deep) a few days ago. There was a little evidence of comb-building in the super, but only a tiny amount.

    I still have to try <i>another</i> attempt at sweeping and scooping to get the last cluster of this hive's bees in.

    Surprisingly, I did not find evidence of dead defender bees in the victim hive's front porch or below it. I am not missing them in the grass or anything, this hive is on a hard surface.

    So my questions: Should I banish the robber hive? Should I just concentrate on getting the last "victim-hive" bees inside to reinforce and build up that hive? Should I try narrowing the entrance hole to make it easier to defend? Was my original idea of removing the great mass of extraneous honeycomb - even at the risk of damage to some adjacent comb - the best idea? Should I just watch and wait? Should I try laying out some honey comb close to the entrance of the robber hive to preoccupy them? (Serve 'em right if that in turn attracted robbers from other hives to the thiefs' lair!)

    Any suggestions will be gratefully received.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Honey robbing from one hive to another - how much of an emergency is it?

    Huge deal, they will destroy the other hive. Gota stop it or only have one hive

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    713

    Default Re: Honey robbing from one hive to another - how much of an emergency is it?

    The best thing you can do is get that hive cleaned up and put an entrance reducer on. Like gm said, that hive will be lost if you don't do something about it.
    Try it. What could happen?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    hinesville ga usa
    Posts
    368

    Default Re: Honey robbing from one hive to another - how much of an emergency is it?

    There is a lot of content in your post, won't answer all. The other posts are correct they will kill out the weaker hive fast. I would place the victim hive in a clean box with just a few brood combs rubber banded in straight as possible with an empty drawn out frame or two in between, don't try to salvage any honey comb, you can put any honey comb in a common area twenty or thirty yards away so the bees can harvest it. Decrease the entrance down to one bee size, in a few days open it just enough to allow the bees to enter without a lot of congestion. I use robber screens, they help a lot but do not completely solve the robbing problem.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    610

    Default Re: Honey robbing from one hive to another - how much of an emergency is it?

    OK, so my amateur's thought to move the brood comb (5 tied in last Sunday) and the two pierco frames into a fresh deep isn't such a bad idea.

    I'll probably have to remove the hive bottom (for cleaning), but will sub in the Varroa screen one for a few days. There's a fresh medium super on top, with one frame of empty tied-in comb and the rest frames with foundation that I just added four days ago. I would transfer that, too. There never was any honey in ....

    Oh, wait, of course there was! There could be honey remnants in the tied-in comb I added to the super. Duh!
    OK, that goes too, I'll just replace that with a frame and foundation for the time being (unless the bees have latched on to the comb in some way.)

    I don't know what an anti-robber screen is, but I'm sure I can get one. The hives aren't in a sunny spot, just high shade against a building so I'm not too worried about overheating.

    Oh course, since I posted, I wondered what the significance of the lack of defensive fighting and dead bees could be. Is it really robbing? Hive robbing assumes that the victim bees have the same sense of proprietorship over the entire space within a hive body that is obvious to us.

    We define the box, along with all that happens to be in it, as the property of one colony of bees but perhaps the bees don't see it quite that way at this point. Since these bees have only been in that box for seven days - and certainly didn't bring this honey in nor make/cap the cells that hold it (it was dumped in by the humans), may be they don't feel it's worth defending. Is it possible that the honey seems a shared resource and the victim hive is simply allowing the other bees to help themselves? And perhaps their lack of defensiveness may be connected to the fact that their queen may still not be in the hive, but perhaps remains hanging out in a nearby cluster of bees. They do have brood (in the tied-in comb) in the same box as the honey and they are already drawing comb on the pierco foundation near the honey comb blob but maybe they don't feel the honey needs to be defended, yet. If this is the case then my continuing efforts to catch and persuade all the bees - including possibly the queen - to stay in the hive might upset the apple cart.

    When I opened the hive to look today, there were lots of bees all over the honey comb. It had been tidied up from the first few days when the whole floor was awash with honey.

    I'm expecting rain over the next few days, but will try to get the screen in place, at least.

    Gotta try to prevent this Bee-Felony.

    Thanks for the suggestions, and will be happy to hear more ideas.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Davie, Florida, USA
    Posts
    826

    Default Re: Honey robbing from one hive to another - how much of an emergency is it?

    enjamres: You are saying a few hives of newly hived, feril-ish, swarm bees. Did you attempt to hive one swarm into a few boxes? Or was this a cut-out, since you are talking about honey frames?? I am confused... I have read your posts several times, and am thinking more and more along those lines. The bees will follow their queen. If there is only one queen, you can not make multiple colonies. Would like to hear more! (And welcome to beesource! Lots of great info here! I am confused... (Hey, it's late...maybe the G&T's are numbing my senses... ) I re-read again, and I am still lost.... Is this one cut out you chose to divide???

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Springfield, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    458

    Default Re: Honey robbing from one hive to another - how much of an emergency is it?

    I caught a small swarm a couple of weeks ago, and they were placed in a 5-frame nuc about 50 yards away from my 10-frame hives. After a week, I noticed that there were more bees than normal coming and going from the nuc and originating from the larger hives. There was no fighting, and the amount of traffic steadily increased over a short period of time. The nuc was just overwhelmed.

    On the advice provided to me in this forum, I reduced the opening on the nuc to 1/4" and took a couple of frames of emerging brood from a larger hive. I also removed the feeder from the nuc (honey came with the new frames). This stopped the robbing.

    I'll be making some robber screens this week.
    Pete. New 2013, 7 hives, zone 6a
    To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    hinesville ga usa
    Posts
    368

    Default Re: Honey robbing from one hive to another - how much of an emergency is it?

    Chemguy's post seems to mirror your situation. You may be over-thinking the bees and their motives. Without a queen you don't have a colony, and the workers and queen will follow the brood. Without the open honey the robbers will go away. Bees will defend the stores some but not much, they can usually get more. They will all die defending the queen and the brood. Everything revolves around reproduction of the colony. A queen is not going to leave the brood nest and hang around a group of bees except for a short time when swarming. As many have advised read, read and read some more. Much can be learned in the bee forums. The more you learn the more you realize there is no real universal bee expert that knows it all, we are all learning and were all beginners at one point.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    hinesville ga usa
    Posts
    368

    Default Re: Honey robbing from one hive to another - how much of an emergency is it?

    In re-reading your post I noted that you didn't want to put your boxes in full sun, I live in coastal Ga. and I have found that my hives do much better in full sun, also you might want to consider removing the super and keeping them crowded until they can start regaining their numbers, they are having to defend too large an area at this time. (just a guess because I am not there with eyes on your problem) Good Luck

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