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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, here are two questions that are perplexing me:

1.) In Beekeeping For Dummies, it states that robber bees sometimes bribe the guard bees with nectar, and then enter the hive and steal some honey. Not to say that bees should be logical, by why does this happen? Do bees use nectar and honey for different purposes???? It does not sound like a fair trade.

2.) I saved my best honey from last winter's failed hives and am letting my bees help themselves. Some days they rob, and some days they ignore the honey. What's up with that?

GMR
 

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1.)You turn up at the door of a slaughter house with a cow ready for slaughtering,you say to the bloke at the door "Let us in mate I've a cow here for you" he says "oh alright then" then you go in ditch the cow and help yourself to cow skinned,gutted and cut up.Then make a sharp exit with your goods and stick them in your own slaughterhouse all the hard work done for you.
Robber bees are very cunning.

2.)I can't really answer that maybe its just a case of hunger or need.But if you are going to give your honey to the bees I've heard someone on this forum mixes it with 1 part water first and gives it straight to each hive.Have a look at this topic http://www.beesource.com/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=002805;p=1#000003
 

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1. I have heard that when worker bees mistake their hive for another when returning, that guards will let them in knowing that they are delivering goods. But I have never seen or heard that bees will deliberately bribe their way in, and frankly I don't believe it. Bees force their way into weak hives, (while a few guards are fighting a few bees).

2. Bees will rob honey when the nectar flow is weak, and will ignore honey when the nectar flow is strong. And remember, the nectar flow can change from week to week, and even depends on weather. Leaving honey out is a good way of determining how strong a flow is at any given time.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Curry,

Your second point is very helpful and a good one. This concept of "flow" is still somewhat confusing to me. I mean, we have dandelions all summer (or so I think), so I wonder how it is that the "flow" only lasts so long. (I first got bees last August, so a lot of this is still new to me.) Being able to use honey-robbing as a guage for flow should help me learn as I observe what is going on with the blooms. (I was drawn to beekeeping for the science of it all.)


GMR
 

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Great tip! I feel the same way about "flow." I've already been through maple, plum, apple, dandelion, and others (since the bees aren't taking syrup, I gather they have plenty now). Clover will start soon, along with sumac and tulip poplar, and there are always dandelions and coltsfoot trefoil. Seems like there's plenty all summer, into goldenrod in the fall. Granted, weather can change things, but where I live, I just don't see how there can be a dirth when bee-friendly stuff is blooming all the time.
 

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This topic is very dependent on region. In the northeast we have pretty good sources whenever it is warm and dry enough for bees to get out, though fall after goldenrod is pretty darn sparse here in Ohio, and weak hives will get robbed out then. The reason is mostly that our rainfall and climate is stable and rainfall abundant. I gather the situation in the plains and the west is radically different, although I have no real experience with that. The northeast is mostly limited by cold and rain, not sources.
 

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GeenMountainRose,
I also live in Vermont and although you are correct there is some necter available for most of the spring and summer the main flow seems to be start around the third week in June and lasts for about three weeks. We also Have a pretty good golden rod flow late august into early September. I try to strengthen my colonies for the June/July flow and harvest the surplus I get then (Which can be as much as 200 lbs. per hive in a really good year.) I usually medicate with Menthol in August for the Tracheal mites and I let the bees keep the golden rod honey for winter stores. I don't particulary care for golden rod honey and it crystalizes quickly. Some people like golden rod honey but if you harvest it you don't get the warm weather afterwards needed for menthol application here in VT.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks everyone. You are all a wealth of knowledge.... I'm so glad I asked. Dwight, your info will be particularly useful. Thanks.

GMR
 

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GreenMountainRose, This is a really great example of local climate determining how to keep your bees. In Colorado, I can extract all the way up to September. After that everything they store belongs to them for the winter. If you tried that your bees would starve. That's why sometimes people don't answer a question. We can't.

Hawk
 
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