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Discussion Starter #1
Yesturday I fed my bees sugar fondant with homemade honey bee healthy. It is Autumn here in NZ and the bees needed a bit of a top up to hold them through the winter. Since then there has been unusual behaviour around 2 of my hives. I've not experienced robbing before but I sure as hell wouldn't open them at all like this. There are bees at the cracks where the fondant is in the top feeder. Theres lots of diferent activity, not the normal activity of bees coming and going straight in and out of the hive. The bees and going gently left and right. I cant see any fighting though so that is why I'm confused. Perhaps it is a mad rush to get out in the sun on a good day or just alot of young bees orientating?? Or is it attempted robbing. I have an entrance reducer on the hive and I can't see bees trying to push their way through there. One of the hives is quite strong the other not to bad. Its different to what I have seen before but I have only been beekeeping for 2 seasons. I smoked them and chucked a wet sheet right over the hive to be on the safe side.
What do you think, Is it robbing? Have I done the right thing?
 

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A hive being robbed has a lot of disorganized activity and fighting at the entrance. They also tend to be aggressive. Check for bees locked together and fighting on the grass in front of the hive too.

Orientation flights are more organized. Bees doing orientation flights will be flying in little circles around the front of the hive. They will also be facing the hive during the flight. You shouldn't see any fighting.

You did fine. I would take the sheet off and see what they do after a day or so. If you decide that they are being robbed, check the entire hive for spaces that bees can get into and seal them up. Then, reduce the entrance down to the width of one or two bees. This will give them a defensible entrance.

Here's a couple of videos to help you out:

Here's a video of bees being robbed:

 

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I'm no expert, but I'll share my experience. The first year I had my hives, early on, while they were building up, I observed robbing activity, just like JStinson described. After doing some research, I removed the entrance feeders and installed robbing screens... a frame about 7 or 8 inches high covered with 8 mesh hardware cloth. I made them myself and they worked great. The robbing activity stopped. Apparently, the robbers can't figure out that they have to go up to the opening at teh top of teh screen to get into the hive. The ones belonging to that hive however, figured it out. The entrance feeders (boardman, I think) attracted the robbers. After that, I went to jar feeders on the inner cover, with an empty medium box over it and under the outer cover.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yes its robbers alright, they are back again today. I have learnt something over this, I will never use homemade honey bee healthy ever again as the smell is strong and probably attracting them. I threw what I have down the drain. And I will always leave enough honey even if it means going without myself so that the bees don't need to be fed. I'll make some robber screans and I'll go up the road and get some vicks. Robbing is quite a stressful ordeal! How long will the robber bees keep coming do you think?
 

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Awesome, thank you all for the valuable information. That was a stressful ordeal. It seems it has all gone back to normal although my bees were quite defensive today and I couldn't go near them without my suit. Normally I can sit with my face up to the entrance while watching them but definitely not yet. Thanks again. Shelley
 
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