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I recently picked up three hives from someone who could no longer keep them - something about a curious toddler in a small yard.

In getting into these hives they are a complete mess! They haven't been inspected in over a year and the previous person left a few frames out of the boxes, with many of the frames actually in there being foundationless - leaving the girls to connect several frames together at a time.

However, being in our dearth, I can't get a lot of work done before the robbers show up! It feels like a swarm with all my other hives (30 or so) sending in the troops for the "goods". As such, I've only been able to organize the frames I could get out with relative ease. I've also rubber banded into frames what I cut off the lid and in the open areas, but there are still many frames stuck together I'd like to get sorted out. However, I only have about 5-10 minutes before things start getting out of control. It's definitely a crazy frenzy where bees even start circling hives I'm not working on, trying to get in through cracks or...anywhere. They seriously go nuts! This also makes the hive I'm working on go into full defense mode, making things a lot less fun - especially since I never wear a suit.

I've been feeding a LOT and my hives all have good weight on them. To keep down the robbing I've even been open feeding about 10 gallons a day. This seems to keep a lot of the robbers busy and away from the hives - until I open one of them up!

We're only a few weeks from the dearth being over, with Eucalyptus starting to bloom already it shouldn't be long.

Has anyone found a trick to working on a hive during a dearth with robbers about?

Should I just wait a few weeks to sort out the crazy comb? After all, it's not really hurting anything - other than my OCD.
 

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6a 3rd yr 5 production hives 1/ 2 q resource hive
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Use cover cloths over any open boxes. I also use a quiet box for any frames lifted out. Cover cloths can be as simple as flour sack dish towels from a local discount store. I have 3. Anything with a tight weave So no bee parts get hung up in the.
 

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Thing is to work fast, do the job, and get the hive closed again.

What you are doing, cutting and pasting comb etc, fast just not going to happen. Plus, sounds messy, robbers love mess.

If you think they are in good enough shape to make the winter, leave this sort of stuff to a better time.
 

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Since the hives are not inspect-able now, what is the dire need to inspect NOW (and not until more favorable conditions come down the road)?

A brief look is sufficient to decide what to do urgently (if anything).
Feeding can be done based on the brief check findings.

IF MUST, I carry about a bottle sprayer with vinegar in it and plenty of rags.
Cover everything opened up with the rags and spray the rags with vinegar while working.
Vinegar is masking the opened hive scent.
 

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Has anyone found a trick to working on a hive during a dearth with robbers about?
Tlie Ij High Resolution Stock Photography and Images - Alamy
Honey Bee Hives In Winter High Resolution Stock Photography and Images -  Alamy

Make yourself an Inspection Cage, and then take your time when carrying out inspections:


(graphic above, ex. Laidlaw)

I made mine using 6 panels: 3 in each pair connected by hinges, with the wooden frames covered in wind-break mesh. 3 panels meant each would be self-standing, and yet still light enough to carry (as I used already available wood - which was a little heavier than ideal) in 'flat-pack' form.

Such a cage only needs to be used - even in a crowded single-yard apiary - during a dearth, and can be used in at least two ways. When inspecting a non-removable hive such as a horizontal hive or tall vertical stack - remove as much of the woodwork as possible BEFORE erecting the screen, as space within the cage is seriously limited. Try and create a 'platform' next to the hive at a reasonable working height onto which to place tools, frame stand etc., cause bending down inside a cage risks collapsing the lot. (ask me how I know this ...)

Inspecting nucs and other movable boxes is SO much easier. Erect the cage in a central position within the apiary, with a small table or similar inside - then take boxes to the cage. Only return them to their original stands after they've been fully re-assembled and with their own anti-robbing screens attached.
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It's not an urgent must. I just simply don't know what's in the crossed up combs so I could either have a whole lot of brood in there, or honey, or... ?

Judging by their numbers they are just fine and there is a LOT of honey in the hive. I'd be more worried about them being honey bound than anything. I'm sure this is also what's attracting the robbers. Anything I do in the hives releases that sweet smell.

I've moved the crossed up comb to the top boxes. I may have to move quickly or do a little at a time. Or, my now all time favorite, getting myself an inspection cage. I can't wait for my neighbors to see!

Covering the main hive after I remove frames to work on should also help. All good input!
 

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I was told by an old timer when this starts happening to flip the lids off of the hives that are doing the robbing, that makes them stay home to defend their turf instead of robbing.
 

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I was told by an old timer when this starts happening to flip the lids off of the hives that are doing the robbing, that makes them stay home to defend their turf instead of robbing.
It is a non-sense I'd stay do NOT do.
Simply because you can NOT flip the lids of your neighbors' hives too.
Why the "old timer" did not think of that is beyond me.
 

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yep
big difference between running a 40 hive yard with no once else around and running 4 hives with 10 people just like you with in flight range
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'd rather discourage the behavior than encourage it. Plus, the time it would take to remove all the hives tops doesn't sound too fun, yet alone getting them back on.

Think I can get my neighbor with 200+ hives to do the same?
 

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Never know till you ask.........I never said to do it, just a reply of what I was told years ago!
GEEZ, get a life!!
 

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Never know till you ask.........I never said to do it, just a reply of what I was told years ago!
GEEZ, get a life!!
We get it - you are only the messenger.
Not a worry about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Never know till you ask.........I never said to do it, just a reply of what I was told years ago!
GEEZ, get a life!!
Definitely an interesting thought. Not attacking you or your message, it's just not feasible to try, for me, in my area.
 
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