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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    87

    Default Robbing? (with video)

    Ive been nervous about my bees getting robbed since I made the mistake of setting a frame of honey for them to feed on outside of their hive. Im also using honey b healthy in their top feeder and ive heard that that can attract robbing. Last evening (at about 7pm. It gets dark around 8:30 here in Austin) I saw a lot of activity around the hive entrance. I don't usually go out to the hive in the evening so im not completely sure that this never happens but, typically, the hive is very calm with just a few bees buzzing around. This time there were dozens flying about with many at the entrance. I also noticed a large amount of activity on top of and below the screened bottom board. When I look at the video, I dont necessarily see bees struggling with one another but seeing this kind of activity at my hive is so out of the ordinary that I wanted to get some better educated opinions. Also, I went back out just 5 minutes after I took the video and the activity had mostly died down. What do you think, robbing, normal behavior or orientation flights?
    https://picasaweb.google.com/1153781...618171/Robbing

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Jacksonville, NC
    Posts
    216

    Default Re: Robbing? (with video)

    That is robbing...A few robbers get in and pass "stollen" reserves to others outside the screened bottom board...you can see it in the second clip.
    You're right that evident struggle at the hive entrance is not present, but still a lot of erratic flying, and some bees just darting out of the hive entrance, at the time of the day when the flight is coming to a still, and everything is calming down for the evening.
    Your entrance is reduced, it is pretty small, and looks like the residents are holding the fort...for now...and without much struggle, and as you just mentioned, the activity eventually "died down". Those are the pluses.
    But, the robbers have good memory and next day they will come back...in higher numbers.
    I would close/cover the screen on the bottom board, and even put a robber screen on the entrance. Make one...look it up. Also, if your inner cover has a notch, close it too. And stop using HBH for now...if you want/need to feed, feed at night only and the amount the bees will consume overnight.
    It might sound drastic...but believe me, even a strong hive can be taken down...slowly, progressively...but surely.
    Good luck.
    Good learning your doing that's for sure.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    1,263

    Default Re: Robbing? (with video)

    If it stopped within 5 minutes I doubt it is robbing. Usually robbing continues untill all the food is taken and the colony destroyed. How many frames of adut bees do you have? Do the cappings on the honey frames show that they have been chewed and the honey removed? How many dead adult bees are you finding on the bottom board and in front of the hive? If you have a growing population of adult bees what you may be seeing is congestion at the entrance of bees foraging or orienting.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    87

    Default Re: Robbing? (with video)

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    If it stopped within 5 minutes I doubt it is robbing. Usually robbing continues untill all the food is taken and the colony destroyed. How many frames of adut bees do you have? Do the cappings on the honey frames show that they have been chewed and the honey removed? How many dead adult bees are you finding on the bottom board and in front of the hive?
    It did stop rather abruptly though I dont know when it started so its hard to say if it was brief or not. I only have maybe 3 1/2 frames of adult bees. The hive is only a month old and I had to add two brood frames from a different hive to strengthen the adult numbers. Im only seeing a couple of dead bees at the entrance and bottom board. Maybe 3 or 4 that I can see. Last I checked, I didnt see any chewing on the cappings but there are plenty of uncapped cells with uncured honey in them. Im having a difficult time deciding how often I should check on them. It seems like every couple of days I need to do an inspection for one reason or another but ive head that I should tamper with them as little as possible...

    Apis maximus - I definitely saw bees from the inside the screen coming together with bees from outside the bottom board and locking mouths. If this is a sure sign of robbing then it seems that it must be the case. Or does this ever happen for other reasons?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Jacksonville, NC
    Posts
    216

    Default Re: Robbing? (with video)

    Well, not all robbing starts and proceeds the same way...most of us become aware of a full blast robbing, with all out war and dead bees. Context, I think is important. You have only one hive at this location...you had a frame of honey in the open, inviting other bees so to speak..., you fed HBH...it is a smaller hive you have...you open and inspect the hive quite often ( nothing wrong when you learn), so the elements to brew up a robing are all there. It does not look like a crowded hive...but look at the bees through the bottom screen running all over and being agitated...some locking mouths with the outside bees....One day, I'll post some pictures with "crowded" hives as they look from under the screened bottom board. I mean really crowded...but all is calm and orderly.

    Look up the term "progressive robbing"...learn to distinguish it from regular robbing, or what sometimes looks like it, during periods of dearth and/ or when hives are fed...Mangum talks about those situations also...
    But again, there are subtle elements one has to watch the hive for. I am not saying it is 100% robbing( progressive or otherwise), I am saying it looks to me that it is, based on what I've seen my bees do in similar context. Ultimately, it is your lesson to figure out...here we mostly put up opinions...

    Here is a link with some excerpts from an article in 2012 ABJ, by Dr. Wyatt Mangum that talks about it:
    http://www.americanbeejournal.com/si...132584_828.htm

    Bees travel and will not pass the opportunity to rob, if the opportunity presents itself. Unless, of course, some massive nectar flow is on and every bee works to bring that home, completely ignoring our inquisitive actions...and sometimes unintended boboos...

    Well, lets hope I misread the situation, and the next few days all will be back to normal...All the best!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    87

    Default Re: Robbing? (with video)

    Many thanks for the info! I did make a robbers entrance and will probably put it on there to be safe. Ive been monitoring the hive quite a bit since the activity yesterday and nothing seems out of the ordinary today. Also, im going to switch out the honeybhealthy syrup with regular syrup and continue to monitor. If it still looks like they are getting robbed, ill follow up with the rest of the advice.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    87

    Default Re: Robbing? (with video)

    This seems a bit strange. This evening the bees did the exact same thing at around 8:15pm.
    I monitored the bees all day today and everything seemed fine. I did an inspection and there were no chew marks on the capped or uncapped cells. It was business as usual until the evening when it all started again. I watched for a while and didn't see any struggling going on between bees but I did notice a lot of activity on the bottom board just as last time. When I went back out 5 - 10 minutes later, it had all quieted down.

    When I did the inspection I noticed that a couple of cells were being cracked open by bees that were in the process of hatching...

    Im going to move this over to the general beekeeping forum and see if I can get any other opinions. Im going out of town tomorrow so I hate to leave them vulnerable if it seems like there is robbing going on.

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