Robbing or some other chaos?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Bridgewater, NJ, USA
    Posts
    60

    Default Robbing or some other chaos?

    I have two hives, one clearly weaker than the other. Today there is a frenetic amount of activity at the entrance of the weaker hive. Seems like it could be robbing going on - however I notice the bees are carrying a lot of pollen: both In and Out of the hive.

    If a hive is being robbed would its bees bother bringing in pollen? Or maybe the robbers are so greedy they are leaving with pollen, but going back in for me or for some honey too?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Champaign, Illinois
    Posts
    2,461

    Default Re: Robbing or some other chaos?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBeeLoudGlade View Post
    I have two hives, one clearly weaker than the other. Today there is a frenetic amount of activity at the entrance of the weaker hive. Seems like it could be robbing going on - however I notice the bees are carrying a lot of pollen: both In and Out of the hive.

    If a hive is being robbed would its bees bother bringing in pollen? Or maybe the robbers are so greedy they are leaving with pollen, but going back in for me or for some honey too?
    Is it possible that your weaker hive is orienting and you've mistaken it for robbing?
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
    Posts
    455

    Default Re: Robbing or some other chaos?

    Langstroth wrote about robbers acting like a pied piper - the stronger residents would leave their own hive and follow the robbers and...move in. You'd have to really watch closely to see this (if it's true)...

    but if the bees with pollen are truly exiting the hive, the only explanation I can think of is foragers returning with pollen, seeing disaster, and resigning themselves to wintering in the robber's lair.

    About the only way I can think of to save the honey (the hive will not likely survive - it is unbelievable how fast the hive can be stripped) is to remove the honeycomb and take it indoors or to an enclosed box outdoors (if you have another hive body). Oh wait, it's a top bar hive - put the honey on the other side of a (bee tight) follower.

    It might be possible to get the remaining residents to join the stronger hive. You can add the comb to the strong hive, if there's room. I like to either smoke the incoming combs and the strong hive to mask the smell of a foreign queen, or I spritz with 1:1 sugar syrup that had a mint teabag (or something with a smell). There is an art to this - the queen will lay in brood comb. If you add a ton of brood comb, she will lay throughout the hive. So expand the brood nest with brood comb and add honey combs to the honey area in the strong hive. Or, you can brush bees off the weak hive's combs (if there's no more room in the strong hive) and then pop those comb behind a follower in the weak hive. it needs to be bee tight or the bees will stay with the brood, is my guess, and not leave. And then not be useful to the other hive.

    Good luck, keep us posted....

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lexington, VA, USA
    Posts
    465

    Default Re: Robbing or some other chaos?

    Most robbing that I have encountered comes from hives in your yard, at least in my case that has been my observation. You could at the least shut down the robbing hive at least for a day (make sure they have ventilation) that might cure the problem at least while you assess the damage and try and devise a solution. At some point you might even in your preparations for winter balance the stores between the two hives.
    Also, I know nothing about top bar hives but I assume there is a way to put a robbing screen over the entrance of your weak hive.
    Last edited by billabell; 09-11-2017 at 07:52 PM. Reason: adding

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