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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I was at the bee yard when I notice one hive being robbed. I had a robbing screen and it worked. However within minutes 5 other hives were being robbed . I used entrance reducers and plugged holes with grass that was the best I could do. We do not have a dearth and there is good flow going on. All of these hives are from nucs not sure that means anything. I have had this happen on occasion in the fall to one hive but have never had all the good strong hives attacked at the same time. I guess I shouldn't ask but is there any possibility of harvesting honey in month or so or when attacked is it all over? Could use a recommendation going forward with these hives.

Went back to my yard a while ago and now every hive has been attacked. Closed up most of them as best I could, Never saw anything like this and am not certain they are my bees or al large hungry swarm. Regardless I think all of my 12 hive are lost in terms of any honey this year.
 

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3rd year 6a- robbing is difficult to stop once a hive is marked as a rob out. The best defense is to stop it immediately by closing up entrances but leaving ventilation. They can overheat and die. I would give up on a honey harvest. Your main priority is to save your colonies if at all possible. In a pinch you can use #8 hardware cloth to severely limit or close entrances and I use wide tape over gaps in the seams of your boxes. They are keying off a smell so all open feed and gaps have to be eliminated. Worst case is to close up and move the hive. You may sacrifice your foragers but you may lose your hive anyway unless extreme measures are taken.

Too late for this but- I use BeeSmart robbing screens. It's a brilliant design really and wasps are completely at a loss. Lastly, another defense is to have a strong colony through mite treatments and good nutrition. I'm sorry this is happening to you. Robbing is brutal to watch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes it is very sad and I will check tomorrow but I am certain they are lost. I will try to preserve a few if possible. I have never seen anything like this in 10 years. I am now 80 years old and enjoyed bee keeping for a decade or so, but this will be my last year. I will sell off some almost new equipment this summer and close the barn.
Thanks for the response.
 

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A robbing frenzy is difficult to deal with. Robber screens will help. But often it's too late to fix it once they are in a frenzy. I would close all the entrances of any hive being robbed with a stapler and some window screen. After the robbing ceases, poke a hole in each of those big enough for one bees. After a couple of days enlarge it to big enoug for two bees.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm
 

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When I have had robbing, generally because I forgot to put a screen or reducer on a new split, I’ve covered the whole front of the hive with a cloth or towel, tucked in at the sides and bottom. The locals figure out a way to get in and out.
 

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Michael Bush says anti-robbing screens 'help'. Well, in my experience prevention is a much better method to employ rather than applying a cure afterwards, and I find screens to be 100% effective in this regard, and really should be built-in to the basic design of any hive (such as nuc-boxes) which might become vulnerable.

The screens I use are magnetically-attached, and normally have a fully open top so as not to impede traffic flow. On one or two very rare occasions robbers have been seen attempting to attack the hive - perhaps a robber-scout circumvented the screen by pure chance, and reported back ? On such rare occasions (and I would stress that these are VERY rare events), all I do then is to place a wooden batten over the open top, such that a 'single bee-space' hole is formed at top left (the box entrance being at bottom right), and then I simply walk away ...



Robbing then fizzles out within an hour or two, after which I progressively slide away the batten in order to provide easier access - and that's it ! Robbing for me is no longer the drama it once was, No need for any other measures to be taken: and believe me, I've tried them all - wet sheets, the lot ! - most are just so much wishful thinking.
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Michael
You are absolutely correct especially when you have many hives. Have about 12-15. The robbing I have noticed in my previous 11 years of bee keeping happens in the fall so what I experienced is very unusual. This year all of my new hives were started from NUCS. It would take a while to explain but I believe there were queen issues with these NUCS and the manner that they were assemble in Florida. My suspicion started when I noticed the capped brood in them was darkish in color, and not the light color I have seen for a decade or so. Although there were an adequate number of bees they were very late late in starting foraging even though adequate supplies were available. I am old so I can not see eggs so I looked for larvae and found very limited amounts, and the capped brood on the NUC frames was not hatching. I always check for queens but I have a feeling they were failing and then failed. The seller is reputable with a big big migratory business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I haves t checked all of my hives as most were robbed over the past several days. Some robbing a lesser rate on a couple of hives today. I was surprised to find all hives were loaded with bees and I did not find ddad bees in front of the hives. The brood boxes and supers were getting filled with nectar. In the lower brood boxed I did find capped brood and some nectar. Cant see well enough for eggs but I did not see larve. The hives were exploding with bees and I had to add supers on many of them. I thought that I had confused robbing with orientation flights but that was not the case as the hives being robbed had some very angry bees. My question is it possible for the hives to be robbed and then start where they left off without much noticeable damage, For example, I did not see an damage to the comb on any frames. Hopefully they didn't kill the queens.
 

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I doubt there was any robbing to begin with and on such a scale.
It is June in Illinois - time to grow and time to swarm (not rob).
:)
 

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... prevention is a much better method ....
LJ
I too want to star just having the screen in the new equipment as a built-in feature.
This way the local bees are always trained to work with the screen at all times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Greg
I initially thought you are correct and it is not robbing. Check the post I sent above yours and I explain what I found yesterday. In the later part of the afternoon I went to my yard and saw it again on 2 hives. They were very angry bees and I was a considerable distance and got stung on the face. The best I can describe it is that the mass of bees is about 10 time larger than afternoon orientation flights, many more bees in the air and they are not friendly. I block one hive and they move to the next. The irony is I don't think they are killing other bees as I don't find dead bees or damage to the comb. It definitely is not orientation flights.
 

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I have found robbing to be a big problem. Even during swarm season, because, once a swarm is cast, sometimes that leaves "just weak enough" hive that for some reason the little thieving buggers almost immediately know about. It is as if the swarm leaves to the left, and the robbers come in from the right. Moving forward, I want to start using much smaller entrances, and even integrated robbing screens right from the beginning. Something like this might be in order https://youtu.be/dnqsV8b0CBc?t=244
 

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Greg
I initially thought you are correct and it is not robbing. Check the post I sent above yours and I explain what I found yesterday. In the later part of the afternoon I went to my yard and saw it again on 2 hives. They were very angry bees and I was a considerable distance and got stung on the face. The best I can describe it is that the mass of bees is about 10 time larger than afternoon orientation flights, many more bees in the air and they are not friendly. I block one hive and they move to the next. The irony is I don't think they are killing other bees as I don't find dead bees or damage to the comb. It definitely is not orientation flights.
During the swarm season, there are cases where the swarms are trying to move into an occupied hive.
These are pretty common cases and for a variety of reasons.
Then you'd see what you have seen.

I am still pretty sure this is nothing about robbing, but rather a swarm-based incident.
For example, a transient swarm could have lost its queen (a preditor could have snatched it) and the queen-less swarm bees in masses were simply desperate to join some hives standing nearby (naturally triggering a defensive response).

In fact, when you blocked the "robbed" hive, the swarm quickly switched over into the next hives as you described - this is NOT typical for robbing. The would-be robbers would actually be pounding at the screened hive for some time because they are already programmed to rob this specific hive, NOT quickly switch over to other targets.

This is not the time a year in our region to observe such massive robbing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Greg,
You may be correct as I did not see any damage to the frames in the hives or what I would see as loss of nectar. It is possible that was a swarm from my hives but I see no evidence of that although I did have a swarm a couple of weeks ago. There are a lot of bees flying around the impacted hive but far more intense than young bees venturing out. Also a lot of bees in the air. I can never catch a swarm here but maybe they decided to pay me a visit. So far the hives seem to be back to normal.
Thanks for your advise.
 

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So glad you're continuing to report what's happening. As I was reading your story I kept wanting to say "I'll bet he's in better shape then he thinks he is". Super happy it's working out for you.

Oh and by the way, please consider the BeeSmart robbing screens (Ebay) or from Blythewood Beekeeping. Goes on every hive I have.
 

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Look up Colony Usurpation, Had two issues this week. We first suspected robbing, closed off all of the hives in the yard, and ended up removing the swarm from our neighbor's tree. Today we caught another one. This time there was fighting in the hive and a foreign queen being balled. Nether came from my hives. One looks like an Italian, the other possibly a cordovan(blondie); I have Carnies and Saskatraz.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The concept of colony usurpation is very interesting My most recent inspection late in the day had 2 hives with less invasion. It seems like they are slowing down but from my inspection several days ago, it does not seem like my hives have been adversely impacted The so called invaders or swarm bee are very unpleasant where as all hived bees are very gentle. I have supered them up to avoid swarming and will report after I inspect again this week end. I have a hive that failed probably due to swarming anomy failure to react, and another hive that swarmed a coupe of weeks ago. A new queen does not appear to have returned and I added a new queen. In terms of swarm attacking my hives I just realized there is another substantial bee keeper less than 1 mile away. I think Greg V may be right on with his explanation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Final update I Have gone thru12 colonies today. Have a couple that are struggling but the others seem to be doing ok. The supers are filled with nectar and a few are already capped which is very early for me in my area. I did not get all the way to the bottom brood box and stopped my inspection at the top brood box as I am to old to do this lifting. I did see considerable brood but it varied by colony. I also noted considerable bee population and a couple of older replacement cells.Over the past decade i have learned to listen to the sound of the bees and although not completely accurate I am able to tell the colony is queen less which was the case with one. I blend the sound with the temperament and I am quite accurate. I also look for brood and bee volume.In the latter part of the day I went back to check for robbing and saw none but did notice significant orientation flights that tell me the queen was there over 20 days ago. I thing the situation that I observed for a few days ago was from a large swarm that was looking for a new home. I also think some of the colonies are so strong that hundreds of new bees are orienting. I will be requesting a couple of colonies. Thats it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thought I would add a final comment to my saga. I do not believe the hives were robbed as I have gone through most of them and the comb on the frames was not harmed. I did note I lost about 3 queens out of 12 but that is not unusual for me. I think 1-2 hives may have swarmed. My conclusion is that most of the hives were much stronger than I have ever had in 10 years, and there may have been massive hatching going on, however, I am unable to account for why it occurred at the same time. They have all settled down with the exception of the queen less hives and the others are now very gentle.I will replace queens this week. There has been significant change in disposition in the remaining hives as they are now so gentle. I can work without gloves. There is a good flow at this time. So I am an old man with 10 years of experience but that doesn't mean very much. I have a lot to observe and learn.
 
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