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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a new beek in So. California and am having a problem with robbing that I cannot seem to correct. I am working my 2 hives in a limited area behind my home so moving my weaker hive away from the robbers is not feasable. Right now they are located about 20 feet apart and once I realized what was happening I installed a robber screen that seemed effective at first. To help identify the thieves, I dusted the entrance of my stronger hive with powdered sugar and sure enough I witnessed one after the other white bees literally walking into the smaller hive unchallenged. This smaller hive does have many bees flying in with pollen on their legs and if I didn't know better I would think all the activity at the front door is normal. This smaller hive currently has 9 frames of honey and brood in the typical pattern within each frame. They just dont seem to expanding like the stronger hive is.

The Robber screen has been in place for a few weeks and it seems they have
gotten used to it and have figured it out. Should I build a screen with multiple reduced entrances and just open a different one each morning before they start to come and go ?

Thanks for any advice !

JC
 

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Not knowing the hive population, I would put an entrance reducer on. On weak hives I have reduced the entrance down to a bees width, but again, I have no idea how many bees your hives have. I want to reduce the entrance down to what the bees can protect.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the help and advice. I took some photos today of the activity in front of both hives at sunrise and then again around noon but I need to read up on how to post photos (or links to photos) on this site. Robbing is still occuring but there is obviously a good amount of bees still active in the hive at daybreak (they flowed out to see what I was up to at first light) but they just don't have the guard attitude that my stronger hive has. I'll try to post either photos or links so you can see the general population and activity at both sunrise and mid day. :) JC
 

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You might try putting entrance reducers on both hives. It will make less of an area to defend for the weaker hive, and maybe help to slow down the robbers from coming and going from your stronger hive.

It may be that the weaker hive has a queen that is not up to snuff, so requeening might possibly help. The problem with that is it's late in the year to find anyone selling queens I'd think. If you choose to try this, the only person I can think of at the moment is Ray Olivarez at http://www.OHBees.com. In the past he has had late queens for me, but that was in the October time frame.

Best of luck to you.
 

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Have you done the bee robbing test ?
Ok, you said you reduced the opening then placed a robber screen.

Now tonight cover up the entrance to the robber screen, your hive is all locked up.
Tomorrow morning check to see if their are any robber bees trying to get in.

Sometimes we get so involved we lose track of what's really happening !

I don't know your weather but if your having warm days you might do the old and radical and pull the top board off your robber hive, yep leave them bare necked.
They will be so busy guarding all that space they won't have time to rob.

Good Luck
PCM
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks again for the additional ideas. I think I understand how to post photos so I will put up my 3 and maybe get some final thoughts about my problem. Again, my space between hives is limited so i can't move any hive really, but the other ideas are beginning to make sense. If the labels on each photo didnt make it they are in this order : #1 shows the orientation of both hives and the distance between them currently. #2 shows the entrance to the stronger hive at sunrise. (these girls are the just the guards that stay on the doorstep all night). #3 shows the weaker hive at sunrise but I accidentally bumped the hive and they started pouring into the screened porch I made but believe me, by mid-day no one's watching the door anymore. And my robber screen has 2 openings. In that photo I have blocked the top one that is about 2 inches wide and the bottom one is less than an inch ~ barely visible on the left bottom side. Some mornings I swap entrances before anyone is awake and by noon the robbers have figured it out anyway ~~ Thanks again for the ideas so far. JC





 

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It's a little hard to tell where your entrance is for the weak hive. From your picture it looks like the entrance to the robber screen and your hive entrance could be too close together. Usually these entrances are separated by at least 5-6-7 inches. The robbers home into the original entrance through the screen. They really want to go in there. By offsetting the entrance/exit to the robber screen at the other end should limit how many robbers figure it out. I've also seen metal or tape applied to the screen 1 1/2 or 2 inches over the exit area so the robbers don't zero in on that either. Just some idea's. I would also just have one entrance/exit in the screen. Less to defend.

I've got a lot of smaller nucs that needed these screens also. Takes a while to figure them out. Good luck.
 

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The entrance to the robber screen needs to be at the top of the screen about
7-8 in above the normal entrance.
The robbers go to the smell of honey which is at the bottom of the screen,
The hive bee are a little confused at first but they are following their Queen scent and will figure it out.

Your hives aren't really close, here's mine, and no problems.


PCM
 

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Are you sure you're still being robbed? Check carefully before you make any decisions. If you are still being robbed, check the robber screen and make sure that it's doing the job you want it to. As said before, you may need to alter the position of the opening. And, opening the top of the robbers hive isn't a bad idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks again friends for the great advice. Yesterday I needed to quickly inspect the smaller hive and noticed far better numbers than previously
seen which is encouraging. While I had their hive exposed I had taken the cover off the bigger hive and it did make a difference. That was a good lesson because I had found that working one hive always seemed to cause alot of commotion at the other hive as well. And yes I did the "robber test" by buttoning the small hive up until just after sunrise and at that point i had a good cluster of about 50 - 100 bees hanging outside the robber screen trying to get in. They had to be from the neighboring hive which was by then at full pitch. I think I will take a little time and build another screen, this time
a little taller and with the entrance on top 5 - 7 " from the bottom board.
Great stuff thanks !
 

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From your pictures I couldn't tell but close the bottom entrance up to say a couple of inches under the robber screen.
This reduces the area of honey smell to the robbers.

Removing the top covers does wonders for robbing hives, not done much any more because we all have new computer ideas :lpf:
Still wondering how I got so **** old without caring a cell phone around with me every waking moment. :scratch:

Good Luck
PCM
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm on vacation this week so the time is right to spend a few hours building a new screen. I was concerned about ventilation but realize now that wasn't an issue as other hives do fine with fully reduced entrances. My new screen will be a little taller with an offset top opening that is reducable as well.

And PCM I'm old enough to remember living without Cell phones or even pagers (forgot about those)! The bees seem to get along fine without them ~
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Ok well I built a robber screen (not my best work) but it is hearty and has the suggested offset opening (reduced) in red and an interior opening for lack of a better term in blue . #1 photo is immediately after installation around sunrise this morning. #2 & #3 photos show the incredible traffic jam inside the screen at 2:30 pm today. We are rolling in 80 degree weather and very low humidity here which is typical for Thanksgiving week believe it or not. Is this sort of gathering normal ?? It looked like the alot of the bees had pollen gathered and so I assume they were not robbers, just good girls trying to get back in their house. The openings are reduced both on the top bar as well as the channel I created from inside the screened area down to the bottom board. About an inch wide x 1/2" high which seemed plenty big for them to navigate. Am i still doing something wrong or will this fix itself ? The photos don't show it but they were jammed in there so much the screen was bulging out ~~~~ JC





 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
OOOPs sorry about the last photo. I forgot to resize it to 640x480. Will be more careful in the future . :doh:
JC #3 photo fixed and re-posted ~~ thanks !
 

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I would make the top & bottom entrances about 3-4 inches

It is the height of the screen that will stop the robbers.

Your hive should be able to defend these size openings and still have room to exit.

Closing the hive down so small is not the answer.

Good Luck
On the good side look at all the expeience you are getting

PCM
 

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Close the bottom opening. The only opening should be the top opening. Resident bees will adjust and soon learn to come and go by the top opening. The robber bees focus on the old opening (before the screen was applied) because they smell the honey. They will not use the top opening. If you use a robbing screen with a bottom entrance you might as well use an entrance reducer and forget the screen.
 
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