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I've always thought that the most desirable set-up with regard to the robbing problem is to have a permanently fully-open entrance, yet - somehow - at the same time deny access to robbers, which at first sight is a seemingly impossible dilemma to solve.

Some three years ago I fabricated four experimental hive stands which I had hoped would provide a solution to this, but had no way of demonstrating conclusively that it worked, and so said nothing ... but instead waited to see what would happen.

The method of construction of these hive stands can be seen at: which, together with the following graphic, should make the principle obvious.

As can be seen, the working entrance to the hive (shown by a red arrow) is some distance away from the Slatted Rack/ Open Mesh Floor combination - the latter of which provides an open surface area some 100 times that of the entrance, and thus acts as a preferential decoy entrance towards which robber-scouts are attracted.

Although I was hopeful this arrangement would work, I had no means of confirming this until yesterday when I found myself working towards combining a hive which has been queenless since the first week of April (if not before), and not surprisingly had developed Laying Workers. Much to my pleasant surprise, upon inspection this hive was found to have substantial reserves of honey in place, and yet there was zero evidence of any robbing activity ever having taken place. As I stood there, I noticed several bees (which were displaying the hunting behaviour of robber-scouts) taking a singular interest in the underside of the hive stand - but were completely ignoring the hive entrance itself - which appears to confirm what I had been hoping for.

It's early days, and I wouldn't want anyone to rush out there and copy this without exercising due caution - but it looks very promising. The next step is to somehow adapt this principle for use with small nucleus hives, which is where the real challenge lies - for of the 30-odd nucs I made-up recently, at least 2 of the returning virgins were seen to become "stuck" on the wrong side of the anti-robbing screens placed over the nuc-box entrances, the use of which I've found to be necessary in order to prevent them from being robbed-out within this one-yard apiary.
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