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#1 I'm concerned about skunks. Is this something I prepare for beforehand or wait until I see signs of their visit to do something? What is the solution if a skunk is bothering the hive?

#2 If bees are robbing my bees hive, what should I do? What are the drawbacks of leaving the small opening in all summer, doesn't that help them from pest invasion (i.e. wasps, hornets?)

I don't live near where there are bears, what other invaders should I be aware of?
 

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Sounds like a touch of paranoia. :D Signs of skunks include scratch marks on the landing board and the bees being stirred up seemingly without cause. There are quit a few deterrents for skunks from tacking a carpet nail strip to the landing board to rolling up chicken wire into a tube and putting it in front of the hive, even having your hive stand on cinder blocks helps as it exposes the soft underbelly of the beast to the bees. Robbing mainly occurs in the fall during a dearth. To get robbing going in the spring with a flow would take some effort on the beeks part if it can be done at all. Personally I have never seen it in the spring. It would not hurt anything to keep your entrance small all year except perhaps honey production. In the wild most hives have very small openings. The larger opening makes for less traffic jams and more traffic. So it is really up to you, give it a try, the bees don't care either way. The only other invader I can think of are mice and they invade in the late fall.:)
 

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#1 I'm concerned about skunks. Is this something I prepare for beforehand or wait until I see signs of their visit to do something? What is the solution if a skunk is bothering the hive?
Wait and see if there's a problem. If it is a problem, the hives need to be elevated a bit - enough so that the ***** or possums have to stand up in order to reach the hive entrance (this exposes their undersides to stinging). Second, make it uncomfortable: carpet tack strips on the landing board won't bother the bees, but make it difficult for Mr. Skunk to find a place to put his paws to stand up. Some beeks put a bunch of tacks thru an old piece of carpet and put that in front of the hive.

Another, perhaps simpler method, is to use top entrances on your hives:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopentrance.htm

#2 If bees are robbing my bees hive, what should I do? What are the drawbacks of leaving the small opening in all summer, doesn't that help them from pest invasion (i.e. wasps, hornets?)
A strong colony should be able to manage against invaders. On occasion it's necessary to reduce the entrance of a weak hive to help it defend itself, but it's not something to leave in place. For a strong hive, a small entrance just creates a lot of congestion during a honey flow.

I don't live near where there are bears, what other invaders should I be aware of?
Obnoxious, rock-throwing children?
 

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I take a natural approach and put the hives on stands where I do not have to bend to work them either. I strap the hive together and to the stand. It works for racoons, four legged bears and two legged bears (teenagers) so far. Yes a four legged bear ate my hive in Florida. Two and four legged beasts make the biggest mess. All the critters mentioned have an increased risk of being stung and it has not been worth the reward for them so far.
 

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I can tell by the tree leaf development and the autum olive bush behind him that it was just about this time of year and I know that he has made it through another bear season!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
For the record, I'm not paranoid, just trying to think of things we didn't really cover that well in class. The last thing I want is for something to happen and then have everyone telling me, "if only you had...." Marla did mention skunks and said something about putting carpet tacking in front of the hive if we live in "skunk" area but I couldn't remember if she said to do that right away or only if we saw a problem.

Thankfully rock throwing children aren't going to be an issue because our hive can't be seen from the road :) As for pulling out the frames too often, I'm already having sleepless nights about having to do my first inspection so for over "inspecting" I don't believe that will be an issue. LOL!!

Thanks for sharing the interesting picture naturegoods. Thanks to everyone who offered advice on what to do for the intruders and for the explanations about when they are and aren't a concern, it has been a big help! :)
 

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I am only a second year Beek but this is what I did last year and I found it to be very effective at preventing Skunks, *****, and mice. I just take 1/4 hardware cloth and screw it across the entrance, 3 - 1/2 screws + 1/4 washers above and 3 - 1/2 screws + 1/4 washers into the landing board. I then screw the bottom box to the bottom board using mending straps from the hardware store. It's quick, easy, inexpensive, and so far very effective.
 
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