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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings . . .

I have seen two types of Robber Screens illustrated.

Type A: Covers approx 2/3 of hive entrance. Hive bees exit and enter uncovered 1/3 of entrance.

Type B: Covers entire hive entrance, hive bees exit and enter from top of screen.


Questions:

1) How effective are they at preventing robbing?
2) Can they remain on hive year-round? Type B might also serve as a "mouse guard".
3) If type B prevents robbers from entering hive, how do hive bees enter?

thanx,
Dave W
 

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I haven't tried them but was about to. Snelgrove seemed to think that the screen was useful to prevent robbing. I bought a bunch of screen doors from Brushy Mt. that I was going to cut an entrance at the top. I think anything that confused the robbers helps. I've been using Daisy's method of putting Vicks on the entrances. It seems to confuse the robbers somewhat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have been feeding for several days. I added a "tunnel" at entrance when I started feeding.

Each morning (7:00 AM) I find 10-25 bees on the outside of hive, most in front, most near entrance.

My Top-cover rests on spacers (for evaporation) that allows a lot (100+) of bees to congregate between t-cover and the sceen over feeder.

Are these robbers?

thanx,
Dave W
 

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Probably are robbers and they will probably die in there. I have problems anytime bees can get into the top of a miller feeder. Most of mine don't have screen over the whole top, but instead have it just at the edge where the bees get to the syrup. But it's always a bad thing when they get in the top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have been turning the screen over each AM, putting the bees (robbers) on top of screen (outside) inside hive. Guess I should stop doing that! I thought they were "lost" bees from my hive.

If a bee is a robber, when do they turn black? All of these are yellow and look just like my other bees.
 

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Sometimes they never turn black. It depends on how well the hive they are robbing defends itself and what color the bees are to start with. If the defenders wrestle around and pull the hairs off of the robbers the robbers end up shinier and darker, but not black. If the hive being robbed doesn't put up any defense (and they often don't) then they won't look any different.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I assumue the bees under the T-cover are doing no harm (can't get to syrup), but should I remove/prevent them from collecting there?

My hive entrance is a "tunnel" 3/4" wide x 2" long. Around mid-day, I see some congestion on land board (4" dia) of bees w/ lots of pollen trying to enter. Should I enlarge the opening?
 

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Just an observation on my part.

Are you sure it's robbing? Have you checked the bottom to see if this a pile of wax chips/debree laying around?

If not, then you may be getting the bees in a whirl of activity who are bringing in the pollen and nectar. They are pretty fervent here right now and if i have the entrance reduced too small the hive bees get excited and try to chew at the reducer to get it opened. It's sort a hard to tell the difference in the activity right now.

I could be wrong, it's a guess unless you have a lot of fighting and debree laying on the floor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Daisy: Thanks for helping us figure this out. No, I am not sure how much of the activity is true robbing. I have NOT seen fighting or "smooth, shiny, black bees" and the sound of there "hum" sounds normal (to me).

Things that I HAVE noticed:
1) Reduction in stores (about 30%). Is that normal? Seems they should be adding to, not depleating there winter stores. But poor natural flow for last few weeks may account for the reduction. I dont know.
2) Activity at entrance looks busy. It began when I started feeding. Have I just stimulated the hive? Is my entrance too small?
3) Some side-to-side flight. Are these robbers that cant get in? If they cant enter hive, are they a problem?
4) A lot of bees "clustered" over feeder. Are these bees from my hive? They never go away.
5) A few (dozen) bees on hive, remaining over night.

MrBEE: My hive has about 18 frames covered w/ bees. Have treated for V-mites (Apistan), T-mites (Menthol now in hive), and no visable signs of moths. Could this hive still be "weak"?

SORRY about the chemicals, I know they are not appricated here.
 

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>1) Reduction in stores (about 30%). Is that normal?

No.

>Seems they should be adding to, not depleating there winter stores. But poor natural flow for last few weeks may account for the reduction. I dont know.

If there is no flow they have to eat and stores will began to deplete SOME, but not 30% in a short time.

>2) Activity at entrance looks busy. It began when I started feeding. Have I just stimulated the hive? Is my entrance too small?

When I see a sudden increase in activity I always suspect robbing. This time of year, if two bees can pass each other the entrance is probably not too small.

>3) Some side-to-side flight. Are these robbers that cant get in? If they cant enter hive, are they a problem?

If you mean a lot of hovering around the hive and trying to get in the top, the back etc. then yes, these are robbers. If they are trying to get in, then a lot of them ARE getting in. The ones that are getting in are the problem.

>4) A lot of bees "clustered" over feeder. Are these bees from my hive? They never go away.

On the screen between the top and the feeder? Yes, I think these are probably robbers. The ones from your hive already have found it from the inside.

>5) A few (dozen) bees on hive, remaining over night.

On the outside? Yes, I don't know why they do that, but I have seen robbers do this. If it was summer I'd say they were your bees and it was just too hot inside.

>MrBEE: My hive has about 18 frames covered w/ bees. Have treated for V-mites (Apistan), T-mites (Menthol now in hive), and no visable signs of moths. Could this hive still be "weak"?

Weak is a relative term. If another hive is stroner, then it's weak enough to get robbed. The weaker they are the more likely to get robbed. Also, in this context I mean weak as in a low population. A hive can have a high population and be weak because of mites, viruses, nosema, moths, AFB etc. These would also make it suceptable to robbing.

>SORRY about the chemicals, I know they are not appricated here.

We all have to do something for the mites or lose the bees. I've just finally found other options.

Back to the original question of robber screens. I changed some of the screen doors from Brushy Mt. to robber screens and put three of them on this morning. The robbers were sure backed up when I left. The real test will be if they give up and leave the hive alone. Also, I saw signs of skunks this morning, which I hadn't seen before. I may have to put the screens on all the hives. They are useful against the skunks too. But I was hoping to only put them on the weak ones so the robbers wouldn't figure out how they work by using their own.

Anyone know what kind of bait to use for skunks? I have some traps. I'm not sure if it would work to just sit and wait for them. I'm afraid they would smell me and not show up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks to all for your help!

MrBEE, your very patient.

I have read that putting your hive on an elevated stand is the best solution for skunk invasions. The skunk must stand on its hind legs to reach the hive entrance, exposing his tender underbelly to the bees. Trapping might work, if you can tolerate the smell.
 

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Skunks don't like to spray and won't spray just because they are in a trap. If you're a good shot (and I am) and you shoot them in the head from a distance they don't spray, they just collapse. I have some of my hives up higher and they don't bother them. But I don't like having to lift so many supers so high. Oh well. I guess I'll see what I can do.
 

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>> have read that putting your hive on an elevated stand is the best solution for skunk invasions. The skunk must stand on its hind legs to reach the hive entrance, exposing his tender underbelly to the bees.

Ever since I put the hives onto pallets, I have had very little skunk losses. They don't like getting stung on their bellies.

Ian
 

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So if I am getting robbed, I should have my entrance reducer to the smallest opening.
Should my vent hole in the upper super be corked? What about the opening on the inner cover. Man, I wish I could watch them all day to check!!! I'm worried now. I see patches of empty comb with the caps chewed off!
 

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I do monitor the hives off and on throughout the day.

Empty chewed cells is what happens when they're being robbed.

I've tested several things while we were having that robbing spell here but I don't know how effective they were. There's no robbing going here in the last while other then the hives being tested with some bees that attempt to rob but are fought off.

I did lay a grease patty shaped in a hotdog on the front porch (a recipe I got from Beeman) he said it would last two weeks but it lasted three days. Anyway I made an observation and a guess.

Bees from the hive clustered on the grease patty to eat all day long. They filled the entire area where the patty laid. When snooper bees came hovering around, I guessed that they thought they were all guard bees and hesitated to get into the mix. Well when some robbers did decide to take the chance, they were napped by the leg by a hive bee who then chased them away.

I don't know if this would work for your hive or not.

It appears that all my hives are pretty equal in strength at this time, but what I'm learning is that that can change from one day to the next.

And another thought too, the weather is mild to cool here now and cold at night. But I don't have any openings at the top of my hives. This may not be good, dunno, but I'm not going to provide openings at the top anymore this year.
 

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>So if I am getting robbed, I should have my entrance reducer to the smallest opening.
Yes

>Should my vent hole in the upper super be corked?
Yes.

>What about the opening on the inner cover.
Slide the outer cover back to block it or put screen over it.

>Man, I wish I could watch them all day to check!!! I'm worried now. I see patches of empty comb with the caps chewed off!
Sounds like you're being robbed.
 

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I've been concerned about the robbing description all evening and have decided to type out the robbing section of my book from the 1880's ABC Guide to Bee-Keeping By W B Webster. He was from the British Isles.

My comments follow.....

Robbing

Bees are by nature inveterate robbers. While honey is coming in plentifully, no robbing will take place; but at those seasons when from dearth of blossoms of honey producing plants nectar cannot be obtained, an exceedingly strong desire seems to possess every bee to botain that or a substitute in any manner possible. Any beepkeeper who has once had experience of a determined case of robbing in an apiary of any size will not soon forget it. The air is alove with bees dashing about in all directions with angry hiss. Around the entrances of the hives the condition of things is worse, fighting. stinging, and struggling taking place as if their very existence depended upon the amounts of damage they could do in a given time. The killed are cast down to the ground in hundreds whilst allaround the combatants are struggling in each others embrace. Woe betide the apiarist who endeavours to go among this turbulent crowd without some protection in the shape of veil; any living creature will be sure to recieve a more then fair allowance of the bees' spite. This condition of things is usually the fault or accident of the bee-keeper; some honey laid about, or syrup spilt, perhaps a hive carelessly left uncovered.

Before robbing has grown to such an extent, the fact should have been found out by the bee keeper, it could then very easily be stopped; but when such dimensions have been reached, it is an exceedingly difficult job. It is very rarely we hear of such wholsale robber as when a knowledge is gained of the time of year when such is likely to take place extra precautions are observed. It will therefore be to the bee keepers advantage if he keeps a very sharp look out just after the close of the honey flow and until cold weather sets in. Very little trouble need be taken with strong colonies, these will usually look after their own interests; but in the case of weak ones or nuclei, their entrances must be contracted at once to about two bee space width, and the greatest care must be taken that no honey, honey comb (having honey or the smell of such attached to it), syrup or freshly expelled larvae lay about the apiary. Where a hive is being attacked a tuft of grass laid against the entrance will often baffle the mauauders, an in attempting to gain an entrance the besieged can tackle them singly in the labyrinth of grass blades. Carbolic acid smeared on the alighting board and around the entrance will have a good effect; but where none of these will stop the strife, a carbolised sheet thrown completely over the attacked colony, and left on until just before nightfall, will usually overcome the attentions of the besiegers. Where such will not answer, this is exceedingly rare, the hive must be moved into a dark coll cellar or she (the inmates being fastened in iwth perforated zinc), and not returned to its oringinal stand for at least two days, during which time the enemy will have forgotten all about it. The time of season when robbing is likely to take place is in spring, before honey commences to come in, in autumn after the flow has ceased, or in the interim between the cessation of one decription of flower blossom and the commencement of another.

Spring robbing is quite a mild affair as compared with autumn. In an apiary where many hives are kept, the application of the tuft of grass, contracted entrances or carbolised sheet will be found most effectual. "Prevention is better than cure". Take the precautions we have advised , keep all colonies strong and be sure no queenless stocks remain in the apiary, and any serious case of robbing will be unknown. END

This book describes what I experienced during our robbing session. But what I've noticed lately is just exactly what Dave has described when reducing entrances to hives where bees are just plain busy getting in their honey and pollen as they prepare for winter. The cells could be chewed and empty because the honey at the top is being brought down low which is what they do this time of the year. The queen will go down to the bottom, and the bees will move and pack the honey stores lower in the hives. When they do, they have to chew the wax to get the honey to move it down.

Now, again, I could be wrong but I'm not sure Dave's hive is being robbed.

But I feel better now that I've added this from the old book. ;^)
 

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Robbing varies a lot in intensity of robbing and intensity of defenses. I have seen hive that put up no defense at all and I've seen hive that vigorously defended and still lost. Robbing is not just one set of classic signs. A lot of hovering around a hive is usually a giveaway. There will probably be more in front than in back, but when robbers are attacking they are searching the top and back for entrance also. The bees that live there know where the door is. Also, when a couple of your smaller hives have more activity than your largest hive, that's likely to be robbing.

I think the leading cause of robbing is feeding.


[This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited October 15, 2003).]
 
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