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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Help!

A couple of years ago, our hives were attacked by some other hive from down the valley (we never could find out where, it's very mountainous and tree'd here). We tried all the tricks: bee doors and sheets (wet and dry), putting stuff in the doorway, closing the hive for a few days, etc etc. But they simply would not go away... or rather, they'd go away for a few days and then come back in force as soon as we thought they were gone.

They killed off our hives. We could not keep up with them. It took several months, but they won in the end. We had one older and stronger hive that managed to fend them off, but then that hive swarmed to our neighbors' and the hive was no longer strong enough to deal with them. We did everything, but they just kept. coming. back.

It's now been two years, so we thought, okay, we'll start again. We got two new hives, put them in a new spot with different colors on them... and within two days the robbers were at the door of one of the hives. We shut that hive up tight (we put robber doors on at the beginning), and the next day they were attacking the other one. Now both hives are shut up tight, and we're not sure how to proceed. They both still have food inside, as far as we know; it's hard to get inside with these bees around.

There are plenty of flowers right now: an apple orchard is in full bloom a quarter mile away, this is full flow season. They should be busy about their business.

I've never seen bees like this. They're quivering and intent, they come en masse, and they are not deterred by closed doors. They come back day after day, clustering on the hive, buzzing and aggressive. It's hard to get inside the hive to check on our own bees because these jerks are there. And they don't give up.

They seem like a hive that has adapted to robbing as a way of life. None of the forum discussions I've seen have described this kind of long-term, repetitive, raping-and-pillaging hive behavior. We've now lost 3 hives to them and are on our way to losing 2 more, and I would love it if someone could tell me a little more about how to deal with it. We are thinking of taking the hives over to a friend's house, but if we ever bring them back these bees will be right back at it.

Also: how long can the new bees stay shut up with syrup? Do they need water? The temperature is not high, 60s and 70s at the moment. We are in Northern California on the coast, south of San Francisco. I do worry about them being able to clean house with the robber door on and closed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Another question: on shutting the hives down, we may have caught some of the robbers inside. Do you think they will kill the queen?
 

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welcome to beesource hd.

are you feeding with syrup and did you mix any scented additive to the syrup, like honey-b-healthy?
 

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I've heard of Africanized swarms taking over an occupied hive but never anything like you describe.

Here's what I would do:
Get a spray bottle and mix water, dish detergent and rubbing alcohol. I use this solution to kill yellow jackets and wasps in the fall.

Then shut up your bees.
When the robbers come around and land on the hives spray them . You say they cover the outside of the hive body trying to get in?
Spray them and clean them up.
Repeat.

Do this until they give up.

Good luck
 

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If you sealed them off for three days, the robbers will forget their original hive and join the robbed colony.

Given the serious and ongoing robbing situation over the years, can you make a bee vac or buy one? When I seal off my own bees, I would create another empty hive with feed, and then I will vacuum the robbers up, the more, the better, even if it takes all day long. And then use these surplus bees to strengthen my weak ones.

Just a thought.

Earthboy
 

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A couple of years ago, our hives were attacked by some other hive from down the valley (we never could find out where, it's very mountainous and tree'd here). We tried all the tricks: bee doors and sheets (wet and dry), putting stuff in the doorway, closing the hive for a few days, etc etc.
Have you tried robber screens?

Where are you located? Maybe there is someone else here with more local advice that can help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
welcome to beesource hd.

are you feeding with syrup and did you mix any scented additive to the syrup, like honey-b-healthy?
Yes, we are feeding via internal feeders (the narrow kind that take up two frames). No scent or additives.

At the moment they have robber screens on them, but we can't even open the little robber-proof door, the outsiders find it and get in. I opened the lower door late in the day today and found maybe a dozen dead bees on the doorstep.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
We thought about maybe setting up some kind of trap and maybe trying to add them to the colony. Do you think they might be good defenders?

The attacking bees look like regular European honeybees, but like I said, I've never seen this kind of long-term aggression. It sounds like the neighbors up the hill have lost their hive to these bees already, too.

It just strikes me as so early in the year for robbing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There is crumbs of wax there as well.

We waited until evening to close the doors. Then when we woke up this morning there were about a hundred bees clustered and flying at the entrance, working hard at the cracks, and crawling all over the front.

The other hive, which had been very quiet the day before (building comb and sending out just one bee at a time) suddenly had hundreds of bees going in and out.

They'd only been there for a day or so, they weren't ready to send out so many bees all at once, in my opinion...?

thanks
 

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I suspect ( I don't have any info to support this though) that adding a bar across the top coming out like this helps with robbing:
https://cookevillebeekeepers.com/how-to-make-a-simple-robber-screen/

The reason I suspect this is that I think the robbers sometimes climb up the screen and eventually find the opening. Adding a crossbar on the outside on the front will helps with the robbers finding their way in by wondering up.


Another random thought, can you add a screened over hole (1" diameter maybe) to a box on the top and back of the hive. My thought on this is that maybe the robbers will be attracted to this vent on the back because it will smell stronger like a hive (heat rises, so the smell will be stronger higher up from convection) and the robbers will leave the main entrance open some more.
 

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Where are you located? Maybe there is someone else here with more local advice that can help.
Unfortunately, northern California is in a very bad drought once again. Rain came in fall and then basically stopped, so I understand. That makes for some hungry bees out there.

All I know to do would reduce entrances way down to an inch or so wide. if that doesn't stop the robbing, then they are just too weak to survive, probably for lack of pollen if not honey.

Good luck.
 

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Normally hives are robbed because something is wrong with the hive. Either the way it is set up, the health of the bees, the population numbers or what ever.

It would help if you could do some photos of the hives, inside and out. I know taking inside pics will be problematic with robbing, do it very last thing in the evening. What is the hives mite treatment history?
 

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I'd go with the idea of trapping the robber bees and either killing them or holding them hostage for a day or so and adding them to your own colony. Keep trapping bees and adding to your colonies until they are big enough to defend themselves.

Build a box that you can put in front of the robber screen that can be closed off once all the robbers cluster to the front of the screen. Wouldn't have to be too big either.
 

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Bees are brand new, brand new box and comb. Shouldn't be a problem with weakness other than just not being oriented yet!
don't let that fool you hd.

i rarely see robbing here, but when i do the hive getting robbed is almost always queenless and broodless, or sometimes there's a failed or unmated queen in there.

the hive 'smells' different when there is no brood and/or a laying queen. i can see how bees that are bent on robbing might sense that there is something 'wrong' with a newly installed package due to the lack of a strong brood and queen phermone smell at the entrance.

i can also see how a package of bees may not have quite the same degree of defensive nature that an established colony has. again, no brood or stores to guard, the (caged?) queen may not even be their queen, ect.

are your bottom boards screened?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Welp, I left the hives closed for three days. The robber activity died down quite a bit, so I opened the tiny upper door on the robber screen. Came out around noon to find bees locked in combat inside the screen, and a bunch of bees climbing all over the hive, so I closed all the doors.

I was worried about them running out of food, so I opened the hive really quick and poured another 8 cups of syrup each in, being careful not to spill, then closed them up tight. I'm working on finding them another place to live for awhile until they get a chance to beef up their strength.

What makes me sad is that in the middle of all this were all these ladies coming home with pollen-legs, trying to get in. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
One is screened. Yeah, they have no brood yet, they were attacked within 2 days of arriving. I know they have queens because I put them in there myself, both were lively and active when I put them in.
 
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