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Discussion Starter #1
As this is my first year keeping bees, everything is a first. Yesterday was my first robbing raid. I was working in the vicinity of the hives, side by side Langstroths, all afternoon, and i stopped often to watch the bees, so I think I was on the scene early on in the raid. I don't know what protocol is for dress at a robing party, but I'm pretty sure a sweaty black tee shirt isn't on the list, so I got my jacket, veil, and gloves. From advice I read on this list I figured the first thing to do was to block the entrance, which was not as easy to do as I would have thought. The bees kept shoving aside the pieces of wood I propped up. Finally I got the entrance reduced turned around to the small hole and got that plugged. For good measure, I reduced the entrance of the robbing hive to the small hole, too. All the while I smoked the area in front of the hives. Finally they settled down, and a rain shower sent them back inside. As I'll be out of town for two or three weeks, I plan to leave both entrances reduced for now.
I was surprised at the robbing, as both are new colonies, installed from packages in April. I had not noticed any difference in strength during inspection - each hive has almost filled a medium box. Neither is being fed. As amazing as it was to see two hives in mortal combat, I hope it is not a regular thing!
 

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are you sure it was robbing and not just one hive with a bunch of new bees out stretching their wings? I kinda thought the first time i saw a pile o f bees hovering in front and going in and out that it was robbing but eventually figured out/was told it was just new bees out.

how long have the hives been set up?
 

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Davidbee -

Why did you decide not to feed your new colonies? Usually feeding is a good idea in new hives until they build out at least two brood boxes --even if that takes way into the summer. If they are not totally into two hive bodies and a super you do not want to harvest honey so feeding seems a good idea to me. I do this on all new hives (I am a third year beekeeper) -- just the syrup not pollen patties. Perhaps you have old comb and they are already built out --?? Anyway the best defense to robbing is a strong hive and building up numbers on a new hive is easier for the bees if they are fed. Just a thought. Cheers.
 

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I just hived my packages in April and yesterday I widened the entrance because it was so congested. Bees were pouring in and out and it was so crammed that I didn't dare touch the entrance reducer as I was not wearing any gear. It was crazy! I had to get a stick and poke it in the small entrance to pull out the reducer and when I did it there were just TONS of bees pouring out and lots of buzzing and flying around. It was absolutely amazing and they weren't paying any attention to me even though I was sitting right in front of the entrance. I did the same thing with the other hive and got the exact same reaction. It was like they were completely relieved to have a bigger entrance. About three weeks ago when there was a lot of flying around the hive I thought there might be robbing going on but I realize now that it was likely just new foragers orientating themselves to their surroundings. Now there is significantly more of that happening and I know it is because bees are probably being born every day now and the colony is growing. Maybe that is all that is happening in your situation, though if the bees are truly engaging in mortal combat that doesn't sound too good!
 

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If it was mid to late afternoon and you didn't see bees wrestling on the landing board I would say it was an orientation flight. Robbers will keep robbing until dark and start at sun rise.
 

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You can also switch the hive locations that will confuse the girls and they won’t know who they are robbing from, and they will rob from the original hive and take it to the week hive. This trick don’t work every time but sometimes it will
 

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Discussion Starter #7
If I misunderstood what was happening, I hope I didn't screw anything up! As I said, this is my first year. Because I'm such a loner, I'm pretty much going on advice I read here. Outside of a crushed bee or two, I don't think I caused any damage.

I fed them until they quit taking it, then stopped.

I think I saw bees going from the target hive to the next one, though, and it sure looked like they were fighting to me. I don't notice any more traffic from the hive today, although now that I have the entrances reduced to one hole again and concentrate the bees more, I think the traffic is noticeably less in the hive I thought was attacked than in the other one.

I know I have to learn by doing, but I sure don't want to hurt the bees doing it. They seem to be doing well - lots of comb and brood. I admit I don't know what I'm looking at and have yet to find a queen or see an egg.
 
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