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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thanks for looking over my question.

I had my first robbing experience the other day.

I re-filled the frame feeder of my weakest hive, as well as checked some frames for about 10 minutes afterwards, at which time I noticed some robbing (fighting) occurring on the exposed frames. I finished what I was doing, and I had everything put back together within a few minutes, but I noticed what looked like more robbing at the entrance. I did have a drywall sander- screen as an entrance reducer (3" open), however it still seemed as if bees were trying to force their way in, and it's a very weak hive that I've been trying to nurse back.

I also saw bees attempting top gain access through the top cover and I saw them along the seams and things seemed to be getting worse by the minute, so I went ahead and completely closed off the entrance and left. I returned about 30 minutes later, and things were better, but there were still bees all over the seams. I did put a little menthol cream along the worst seam and it worked well, but there were still a fair amount of bees at the front. (I should add that there are two other hives within 20 yards of this hive.)

I came back about 90 minutes later and things looked totally fine, however I decided to wait another two hours before I opened the hive, which was around 4:00 PM. Looking back, it might have been better to wait until morning, but I was concerned about some of the returning bees with pollen, and how they were unable to enter. And this brings up my question:

Is there any type of a standard waiting period before you re-open a hive after a robbing situation?

And a follow-up question-

After this experience, I'm assuming that filling the frame feeder AND THEN checking the frames played a role, but I wanted to check? In-other-words, did I leave the sugar water exposed for too long, or would that even matter?

And one more because I'm annoying-

And how is robbing even initiated? Do "scout" bees locate a hive that seems weak, then direct the other bees to its location?



Thanks again,
b1rd
 

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Bees are scavengers and they would MUCH rather rob out a hive than work on flowers. A scout bee finds and recruits just the same for robbing a hive as she does for foraging. If robbing every gets super bad again, put a wet sheet over the hive and that will stop it pretty quickly. Reduce the entrance down to the smallest size so that literally only two bees can move through it at a time. Anti-robbing screens are your friend here, especially this time of year. When dealing with a robbing situation, I always leave whatever emergency countermeasures I used on at least overnight.
 

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And a follow-up question-

After this experience, I'm assuming that filling the frame feeder AND THEN checking the frames played a role, but I wanted to check? In-other-words, did I leave the sugar water exposed for too long, or would that even matter?
Filling feeders is best done during 'the robbing season' in the evening if possible, and again - if possible - by not opening the hive at all. This is one situation where the overhead inverted jar feeder scores over a frame feeder.

And one more because I'm annoying-

And how is robbing even initiated? Do "scout" bees locate a hive that seems weak, then direct the other bees to its location?
No sensible question is ever annoying ... :)

Robber scouts ? Exactly right. Which is why robbing occurs during a dearth, and never (afaik) during a flow - because during a flow the robber scout's waggle dance is drowned-out by dozens of other dances originating from sources outside the apiary. But when those sources dry up, the robber's dance becomes "the only dance in town" - and so other scouts then sit up and take notice.

That's why anti-robbing screens installed preemptively work so well - by initially making life tough for the robber-scout. If they can't report back good news, then robbing will never get started. And - even if a robber scout should gain access (which happens sometimes, because they're good at their job), when the next half-dozen or so robber-scouts come out to check that the first report is valid - then if they can't immediately access the goodies from the co-ordinates they're been given, then they'll report back that Ethel has given them duff info - and so any potential robbing gets nips in the bud before it even gets a chance to start ... and duly fizzles out.

We call it "robbing" - but for the bees it's just "foraging on steroids" - exactly the same mechanisms are used: individual scouts, followed by more scouts to check, and then - but only when a waggle-dance threshold is reached - the mob eventually flies out to reap the harvest. An efficient use of girl-power :)
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the very useful information and tips. The anti-robbing screens look like soemthing I need to look at, and lesson learned about the time of day that I feed them.

Regards,
b1rd
 

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Pat yourself on the back that you got it to stop. That's not easy. Be sure they have ventilation so they don't overheat. #8 hardware cloth over entrances helps. Also you may want to screen the top entrance on the weak one for a bit or tape it if you have a lower entrance and air. My advice- robbing screens. I use the BeeSmart robbing screens (Ebay) on all my hives both strong and smaller. Period. Second- consider using cover cloths for any boxes removed and consider using a quiet box for frames removed or take a nuc box with you and cover that. Exposed frames make bees crazy during dearth. For the colony exposed it's stressful and for robber bees it gives them a target. Cover cloths can be as simple as flour sack cloth dish towels from a local discount store. Something with a tight weave to avoid snagging bee parts.

Lastly, consider taping the seams with painters tape. No smell- no interest. Once a hive is marked as a "rob out" it's very difficult to turn it around. If you consider these steps you may save your hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I use the BeeSmart robbing screens
I was already online checking these out when your comment posted- thanks! (And I've been using the dry-wall sanding screens, which are like hardware cloth as well)


EDIT: I did just order (5) of the Bee Smart screens, so hopefully that will be the last of it.
 

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EDIT: I did just order (5) of the Bee Smart screens, so hopefully that will be the last of it.[/QUOTE]

Well done. I won't start a new stack without them. Stays on spring through late fall. Replaced with mouseguards when I'm ready for winter config. I use mouseguards for winter along with bee cozys. The mouseguard design works a little better with the cozy. You may also want to consider vivaldi boards. A staple for moisture control and ease of winter feeding.

Right now my full focus is taking a small honey harvest off and obliterating the mite population.
 

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I've only had robbing issues a few times. I stuffed some grass in the entrances and left just a small opening where the rightful inhabitants had to crawl through loose grass. Also took a hose (cold well water) and made it rain a few times over a few minutes. Thirdly, I have an open feeding station and keep a 5 gal bucket with a spigot/honey gate nearby. I have fed frequently and thousands of bees know the location. Setting it to drip will draw them away from the hive they are robbing. This is based on very limited experience, but I thought I would offer it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Setting it to drip will draw them away from the hive they are robbing. This is based on very limited experience, but I thought I would offer it.
Thanks. It's something to keep in my bag of tricks for the next time. I've also read not to just feed the weak hives, which is another thing I did.
 
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