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What the hell? I'm a nebwee, but wow! I never thought I'd see that! I was looking at my hives today, two that are about 7 weeks old. I had just removed the entrance reducers yesterday. The bees are very busy, flying in and out doing their thing, and then I saw a bumble bee drifting around low near the entrance. Next thing I saw it was carrying one of my bees! I followed it, trying to see exactly what was happening, but it carried it away. My bee was heavily loaded with pollen, I could see it as it was kidnapped. I was pretty shocked by this.

I then sat near the hive, and before I knew it, there was another one! It flew right by me. I will confess, I smashed the bejesus out of it. OK, my question: is this normal? Anyone seen this before? I always thought the bumblebees were sort of nice "bumbling" creatures, fellow pollinators who were solitary, and not colonists. They even feed off the same flowers. I don't think this was a "carpenter bee." Anyone? Wish I could have caught that on film.
 

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I would bet it was a wasp or hornet and not a bumble bee. I have never seen a bumble hunt meat. Wasps do it all the time.
 

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I saw a bumblebee go into the entrance of a hive and reappear very quickly with several bees on it. One fell off almost immediately and the other went out of site with the bumble. My impression at the time was that the bumble bee was a thinking she had made a bad move. They do not seem to pester like the hornets do.
 

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Last weekend I watched a carpenter bee (looks like a large bumblebee) enter a hive on which I'd just removed the entrance reducer. The carpenter bees had shown interest in this hive before, but had never actually entered with the reducer in place, although they could fit thru it.

The CB stayed in there for maybe 2 seconds before exiting with a worker pinned to its left upper abdomen. The CB was in evident discomfort. After a mad dash off the hive stand and across gravel, it took flight for the woods. I would not characterize this as attacking one of my bees and carrying it off, more like was attacked after unwisely intruding and flew off with a brave little defender still attached.

Wasps and hornets are insect predators. I've watched hornets attack and yellowjackets and carry them off for a fate worse than death.
 

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I've seen a bumble fly in my hive last year and it came out after 30 seconds or so looking unmolested. I was upset the girls didn't take it out. I also found a dead one in another hive. Good girls!

I went to get some nucs this spring and while looking for the queen a hornet dropped down, grabbed a worker and took off.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Last weekend I watched a carpenter bee (looks like a large bumblebee) enter a hive on which I'd just removed the entrance reducer. The carpenter bees had shown interest in this hive before, but had never actually entered with the reducer in place, although they could fit thru it.

The CB stayed in there for maybe 2 seconds before exiting with a worker pinned to its left upper abdomen. The CB was in evident discomfort. After a mad dash off the hive stand and across gravel, it took flight for the woods. I would not characterize this as attacking one of my bees and carrying it off, more like was attacked after unwisely intruding and flew off with a brave little defender still attached.

Wasps and hornets are insect predators. I've watched hornets attack and yellowjackets and carry them off for a fate worse than death.
I think this is what may have happened. I clearly saw the bee under the bumblebee/carpenter bee's body. It may have been a scuffle/fight rather than a kidnapping. :)
 

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I've seen Bald Faced Hornets pick off my bees and carry them off, but never a bumblebee. Are Bumbles "meat" eaters as in eaters of other insects? BFHornets are black and white, are you sure it wasn't one of those?
 

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Yes, it was a bumblebee or a carpenter bee. Definitely not a hornet, wasp or yellow jacket. The only correction I can offer is that maybe the bee wasn't "carrying my bee away," but instead had strayed too close to the hive, and my bee had attacked the bumblebee. They were intertwined. This seems to make the most sense.
 

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https://www.google.com/images?hl=en...&sa=X&ei=KoKoU8l5ruWwBK_lgIgP&ved=0CEMQ1QIoBA

I found one this year looks just like a bubble bee the extra-long legs (for capturing prey) gives it away. I do have a lot of just the plain robber flies.

Two years ago I have a bunch of them, did not know what they were at first. Their numbers built up and there was always 10+ hanging around drinking up bees. The will kill a bee every 15 min or so. I killed a few dozen and now I only see one or two. The also hunt other things as well like horse flies and yellow jackets. But once they find a hive they stake it out.
 

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MJC417 is correct, robber flies are predatory insect eaters that look like bumble bees and can easily make a meal of a honey bee. If uncertain if what you are looking at is a bumblebee or a robber fly, a definitive test is to check it's back legs for pollen basket storage area, robber flies don't have them, although the legs are somewhat hairy.

For those who do not click links, this, from the link supplied by FlowerPlanter.

 

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Thank you FlowerPlanter and Oldtimer. That's EXACTLY what that was! It was just hanging out, and I saw it again yesterday, and killed one. It was just sitting outside hive, waiting. In fact, it was so intently watching the bees, I was able to sneak up on it and whack it. Reading about it…. pretty scary little creature. The way it sat on the leave was not "bumble-beeish" at all; it has a much more predatory stance. Poor bees…
 

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If I see another one I'll capture it for examination. However, the only additional one I've seen since our first episode was yesterday. It was lying on the ground in front of the same hive, dead as a doornail and being consumed by ants. By the shiny abdomen, I can be pretty sure it was a carpenter bee and not a robber fly. By the deadness, probably not much of a predator.
 

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I was going to insist that twice this year I have seen bumblebees eating some of my honey bees until reading Oldtimer's and FlowerPlanter's post regarding robber flies. Robber flies appear to be the culprits in my case and there was no "ended up in the wrong part of town" sense about it. The bumblebee look-a-likes were calming sitting on nearby blackberry leaves consuming their catch. Haven't seen this before this year, but perhaps just didn't notice.
 
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