Catching robber bees and making them your own.
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  1. #1
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    Default Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    If I set out a bucket of honey, devise a trap and catch about 4000 to 5000 robber bees, wild bees, whatever, Can I convert these bees to my own by keeping them in a package with a new laying queen for a week? Since all the bees I would catch are foragers and older bees from various hives, would they get used to each other packaged together, and then regress to the nurse and house cleaning duties of younger bees if they accept the queen and she begins to lay? Just wondering.....

    For this example assume that I have drawn brood comb already in the hive.

    Thanks

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    If it was that easy then this would have been a long time ago. Forage bee's are "programed" to there beehives smell and queen pheromone and will always go back. That's why when beehives are moved the forage bees usually go back to there original beehive location. It's much easier to package nurse bees because they have never flown out of the hive and will stay in a new hive once moved.

  4. #3
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    Colorado
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    Default

    sounds like bee rustling to me. I would be pissed if my neighbor did this

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    Yeah, I kind of figured that, but I did catch half a package of robbers last September and put a queen in with them. I left them together for a week under the house and fed them, like a new package. They seemed to come together, and released them into a hive with some drawn brood. they stayed but began to dwindle after 2 weeks, and I couldnt find the queen. They did seem to fly in and out set up some guards, etc, so it wasnt like they just all flew away to their initial hive. Maybe it just took some time for them to figure their way back home.

    I just was wondering if I could have done something different to overcome their desire to return to their own hive after a time, and accept that queen. i dont know if they killed her, or if the queen was sick as she did come from a failing hive.

    I guess it would be very difficult to do to overcome that initial programming. Hard to teach old bees new tricks. I would have guessed on some level a forager could regress to duties of a younger bee if the cluster found itself in need for some reason, just due to the efficiency of design as to the needs of the whole to survive. Thanks.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    BEE RUSTLING!!! now theres a thought!

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    I suppose it might be possible.
    Is it ethical? Your neighbor beekeepers might not think so.

    I suggest taking the high road. Spend your spare time building some swarm traps for next spring, or get yourself on a local swarm call list.
    To everything there is a season....

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    I dont know about the ethics question. just thinking out loud.

    the thought was generally if old bees can somehow regress in their hive duties if they find themselves in a situation where the foragers return to the hive and somehow an animal or something has wiped out the brood but the queen survives. So you are left with the queen and a majority of foragers. What will they do and what happens?

    I know I threw in too many variables with the new queen, and the bees from anywhere. I guess these robbers were democrats, republicans, conservatives and liberals, jews and palestinians, all from parts unknown, all thrown together in a box with nothing to protect. Can they be manipulated to form a cohesive and productive unit? It seemed like they managed not to kill each other, and maybe they would have been productive if they had a decent queen. That is the question. being new I have zero idea of how a bee package is made--are they all shook from the same hive, or do they combine boxes and give them a new queen?

    The ethics question is interesting and could, it seems to me, to also relate to swarms. Are you catching the swarms of your neighbors by setting out traps to entice them? Or are they feral bees? who knows? Does anyone brand their bees like cattle for identification? whats the difference between doing this and setting out honey to catch feral free flying bees and re-queening them, IF that was even possible?
    My argument would be that the swarm is a reproductive action by the swarm, and if it comes on your property and you catch them its ok. Its more of a passive action. the robber catching situation is more like bee hunting in a way. But both ways you are ACTIVELY enticing them to catch and use as your own. I dont know--interesting question with many opinions i would guess.

    I think in the end buying a package or getting a swarm is the cheapest. I dont think a great industry in bee rustling would be spawned, where you get a partridge family type bus full of honey and traps and park it near an apiary to get bees. Then repackage angry bees with a crappy queen to sell? nah, think i would stick to a Bitcoin investment.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    You're almost there. Putting swarm traps near an apiary is not illegal or unethical as long as you have the landowner's permission. Wouldn't be mentioning it to anyone though...
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    Just out of curiosity, beetle -- are your hives actually ON Wr. Beach? I've wondered how hives on the islands would fare (considering being off the mainland, and the weather conditions, etc). I'm in Greenville -- used to live in Wilmington. Hard to imagine hives in Hatteras or Rodanthe flourishing. I don't recall seeing many blooming things that way in past visits.

    Re: concerns of ethics and nabbing robber bees -- should anybody really care? I mean ..... the bees're robbers, for God's sakes, not friendly visitors. I think all bets s/b off in regard to them. When my 2 hives collapsed last year, my neighbor's bees robbed 'em. I'd've blasted the lousy little bugs if I'd had the option.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    Forage bees are old enough that they only have a couple weeks of life left. You trap them in with a queen, and the queen starts laying, but the first new brood won't emerge for 3 weeks. The hive will be empty of bees by then. You'll do much better buying a package or setting out some swarm traps.
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  12. #11
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    Last year, a small hive was under a massive robbing attack. I closed the moving screen locking the robbers inside and moved it to another outyard. Since the robbers couldn't find their way back home, they stayed with the hive and really boosted the hive's numbers.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    And that, my fellow beeks, is bee rustling done right!

    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    Quote Originally Posted by ericweller View Post
    Last year, a small hive was under a massive robbing attack. I closed the moving screen locking the robbers inside and moved it to another outyard. Since the robbers couldn't find their way back home, they stayed with the hive and really boosted the hive's numbers.

    I've always wondered if that would work.
    Lawrence Heafner
    15 hives; 17 years; TF for 12; Zone 7B

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    Hi mlanden. Go Pirates!

    I am basically on the intracoastal waterway overlooking the Island of Wrightsville. So my bees were on the mainland mostly. I dont know of a beek on the island proper, but with their range and Landfall right across the waterway I am sure they would do well. We do have the beach wind here on a regular basis, and its hard to see how they dry that nectar out with all the humidity here in the summer. I think a bee's range here would get them enough to use on the mainland. Hatteras and the OBX area are desolate and nothing but sand and cut off by the pamlico sound. I would think bees there would be hard pressed for nectar, unless they could get it out of a mullet.

    I had 2 top bar type hives (cathedral hives) and have just enough property to put one top bar hive on it without much notice of the neighbors. This place is only 28 houses with a gated community and a marina, and way too many bosses than workers, so you dont want to tee anyone in here off. They all have lawyers on retainers.

    the other hive was at my farm 40 miles away. both hives finally died due to my "no treatment deal" that I was doing being this is the first year. I am going to reboot and do different next year, plus doing some lang hives also. Up until I lost them, the cathedrals were bee generators and were huge and nearly completely built out until they fell off the cliff. it was totally my mismanagement I am sure.

    the thing is--the beach bees really outperformed the farm bees as far as honey goes. The bees here were a package from Ga. while the farm bees were from a commercial guy near Burgaw who shook nearly 2 deeps in to that hive. The farm bees were surrounded by corn, soybeans and swamp, and here it seems everything is ornamental and blooming all summer. Everything here is built up now from the river to the sea. Houses everywhere.

    Neither hive made it to the golden rod bloom.

    I was cleaning up the box here and claiming their honey when the robbers showed up. It was amazing with all those bees in the air---my few that were left were fighting many of them before I threw a sheet over it and got the robbers interested in that honey bucket. Then my trap idea came up and I jailed some of them. Some of the robbers were mainly black in color, so I dont know where they came from.

    I have had only one neighbor ask me about bees so far--I think she saw me in the hat. I told her that mine were stingless, and if she ever got stung then it had to be someone elses bees. no problems so far.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    Quote Originally Posted by ericweller View Post
    Last year, a small hive was under a massive robbing attack. I closed the moving screen locking the robbers inside and moved it to another outyard. Since the robbers couldn't find their way back home, they stayed with the hive and really boosted the hive's numbers.
    Nice. So the robbers just took up with the small hives and accepted the queen? I guess they dont kill a queen thats not on their home hive. thanks. thats interesting.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    Forage bees are old enough that they only have a couple weeks of life left. You trap them in with a queen, and the queen starts laying, but the first new brood won't emerge for 3 weeks. The hive will be empty of bees by then
    I disagree, fly away spits have worked well for me and many others and almost entirely use foragers

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    Well, I think fly back splits have some bees that are not just foragers, but bees that have taken their orientation flights but have not graduated to foragers yet and are still honey storage area workers. They are still hive bees for two weeks after their orientation flights. I might be wrong of course, but that's what I had figured. Older forager bees in the field only live 2 or maybe 3 weeks at most, is what I've studied anyway.
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  19. #18
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    But I've never tried to capture robbing bees to make a hive from, so what do I know? Nothing from experience for sure. I've never tried to capture robbers, just practice keeping them at bay.
    Live real time bee chat, most evenings...
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  20. #19
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    Older forager bees in the field only live 2 or maybe 3 weeks at most, is what I've studied anyway.
    yep, but thier not in the feild, I am thinking at some point it may be the miles, not the age that wears them out. But you may be right on the some what younger "orientated" bees

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Catching robber bees and making them your own.

    You guys are giving me way too much to think about for next spring as a way to populate nucs.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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