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Discussion Starter #1
My newly established hive is getting robbed by the parent hive. The queen has only recently started laying and the numbers in this hive are small. I had the entrance reduced but apparently not small enough. I didn't even see fighting or dead bees, just a lot more bees than this hive should have coming and going so I watched them to see where they were going when they left. Straight to the momma hive. I put on a screen and shut both entrances for now. But now the screen is almost completely blocked by bees trying to get out. Do I let them out or make them stay in there! I also moved the hive about 20 feet away. (It's on a wagon until my bee stand is complete so easy to roll it around the yard.) Should I move it further away?

Will the invaders kill my newly laying queen or will they become part of this hive? Should I let them out? How long can I leave this entrance closed? I rolled it into the shade so it won't overheat this afternoon while its closed off but have no idea if that was the right thing to do. I've attached some photos but they dont show how frantically those bees are trying to get out. I can hear them chewing. The dark powder is cinnamon. image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
 

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Here is what i would do - first move it back where it was so that the foragers can rejoin it - or swap the two locations so as to equalize the hives somewhat. Then just open the top entrance on your robber screens and they will be fine.
 

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Put an anti robbing screen in front of the robbed hive. I have had 2 small hive survive being robbed of all their stores- in one the bees clumped in a corner away from any stores and the other a queenless nuc the original bees stayed on the brood and raised a queen after I moved them.
 

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Agree! Applying a robbing screen in the midst of a felony-in-progress always (for me at least) gives the appearance of making things much worse, at least temporarily. Bees on the inside of the screen pack the protected area, bees caught outside - would-be robbers and foragers, alike- mill frantically or hopelessly around the screening. And I think the upheaval may even ellicit some kind of panicky, mass-hysteria which draws many indoor bees out to rubberneck.

But if you need to use one, just do it. But I would rarely close it off completely, except for a few minutes, to do something urgent. I generally use two anti-robbing devices at the same time: I have a form of ventilated entrance reducer (not the typical wooden one in this case) that allows me to make the normal entrance just a bee, or two, wide. Plus I also use a separate, screened device that stands about an inch or so proud of the front surface of the hive and which covers the whole entrance area and has another entrance limiting device. I usually set the outer one to the smallest opening possible, the thickness of my little finger, while allowing the inner excluder to be a bit more generous. This arrangement gives guard bees several battle stations from which to manage the invaders.

I have at times felt that things were getting a little too out of hand inside the robbing screen and temporarily removed it for a few minutes to evacuate the mob behind it. If I let a few robbers out with their booty, I'm OK with that if the result is a better organized battlefield for the defenders.

Upper entrances are a bit more complicated because they occur on the flat plane of the hive front. But you can make anti-robbing boxes for them, too, and simply screw them accross the joint of the shim and box below or above. I have some made by Betterbee that were intended for nucs which work just fine, although they are small (approx. 6" sq.) so they can get packed full pretty quickly.

If the first day it seems chaotic, usually by the end of it bees are starting to sort themsleves out. Robbers may find too little opportunity to score and move on; foragers caught outside will eventually get a clue and bees inside wanting to go out will figure out the exit point and the guard bees will have sorted the hash of any robbers caught in the act. So, at dusk, when the invading hordes have presumably gone home to a nice supper and their beds, take the robbing screen off, allow the "home team" bees to all go in, too. Late tonight, or before dawn the next morning, reinstall the screen. That way tomorrow anybody who leaves has to figure out the new secret passage. Some profoundly focused "gotta-get-to-work" types won't make a note of it and will be confused again on their first inbound run, but that will diminish. You may have to do this again for a day or so.

This assumes that hive is still in the right place. Moving it complicates this quite a bit, and so, absent other things I would replace it where it started this morning. Easier all around, I think.

I'm pretty new at beekeeping, but I've decided from my experiences so far that whenever there is disruption, or major inequality among my closely-placed hives, and there isn't so much flow going on that turning to felony-acquisition is more trouble than it's worth, robber-screens go on as preventive measure.

So, I've added adequate anti-robbing devices for each planned hive or nuc to the ever-lengthening list of "stuff ya gotta have". And to think that last year I was taken aback that you needed a base, boxes, frames, and both an inner and outer cover for each one. Little did I know!

Good luck with your crime wave.

enj.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Before I saw your replies, I went out again to watch them and got worried about the crowd at the gate so went ahead and flipped up the lower metal latch. They came out like a hoard! I waited until it looked like most were out and closed it to about 1 bee size. I also opened back up the top entrance. A lot of the resident bees seemed to have found their hive by then because they landed on it and calmly crawled straight in. Everything seemed to have calmed down once I let out the hoard and it got really quiet and calm. I like my little entrance screen. It has two openings and I can flip those metal latches to adjust the sizes. It was perfect for this situation. I think I'll get another one for emergencies.

It's too dark now but I'll go out first thing in the morning and put it back. All i could think to do was to pull them away from the mob. I'd switch them if I could but the other one is way too heavy for me. When I move it to the new location when my new stand is done, I'll have to take it apart to do it. I think I'll temporarily put this hive on that spot when I move the other one. Maybe I just need more wagons instead of stands. :)

Thanks for your advice.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I just wanted to follow up on this. The robbing attempts continued through yesterday, despite my screening attempts (things would calm down and then start back up again), so I finally bit the bullet and took my big hive apart and moved it yesterday. I loaded it on my garden cart, took some brood and honey from it to give my weak hive, then put my weak hive in its place.

I had no idea how many foragers were out until the weak hive was bombarded with incoming bees. They couldn't have stopped them if they'd wanted to. It was very entertaining to watch. I can only imagine what those house bees were thinking. I quickly added another box so they didn't explode at the seams.

There was still chaos for most of the day yesterday and this morning but at noontime it looked like everyone had calmed down and things seemed to be working normally.

My bigger hive doesn't have near the foraging activity the new one has now but I'm sure they'll recover quickly.

Thanks for all of the advice. My next step was going to be removing the hive altogether for a few days but hopefully I won't have to do that now.
 

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

First, stop the robbing by any means necessary, including blocking the entrance completely with screen, using sprinklers, wet sheets etc.

Second, when the robbing has stopped completely, and the robbers have gone home, open it up enough for only one bee at a time to pass (3/8" by 3/8" maximum) with the rest blocked by screen (to cause confusion for the robbers). A robber screen is even better of course, but a 3/8" opening should be defensible.

If you are feeding, stop. If you are feeding HBH definitely stop. If the colony is short on stores, steal them from a strong colony and give it to the one that is being robbed. If you don't have a colony to take honey from, and they are in need of food, use dry sugar.
 
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