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Discussion Starter #1
So, I inadvertently set up a robbing situation :cry: today.

I purchased a local queen yesterday and pulled a few frames with nurse bees from one hive to put them in a nuc with her. While I was at it, I pulled a few frames from my other hive and put them in a second nuc to let them raise another queen. I brought the nucs up to the flower bed behind the house instead of leaving the nucs in the bee yard. I put in reducers and left them to it. I installed the queen cage today.

All seemed well until about an hour ago, when I looked outside and noticed there seemed to be a whole lot of bees flying in the yard. One of the kids came in from the backyard and said, "it's bee Star Wars outside!" I went out to look at the nucs, and bees were all over them. Terrifying. I'd wondered if I'd recognize robbing...it was pretty obvious.

I threw a wet towel over each nuc, shoved grass in the openings, and traffic is somewhat less out there but still high.

I'm glad I moved the nucs to where I could see them. Otherwise, I'd have not known as quickly as I did.

Anyhow, a few questions:
Will my new queen be OK? When can I look to check on her? I'll kick myself if she was killed in her cage.

When should I combine the nucs, should I determine the loss of bees in each nuc is too high to allow them to survive on their own? I was thinking of popping the top after dark to look quickly for carnage. The frames were beautiful...full of capped honey, pollen, capped brood and eggs.

I'm thinking of keeping the nucs closed entirely up for the next few days, but it's going to get to the 90's here, and it's supposed to get humid again (sigh). How to help them stay cool? I could set up a mister over them. Can't find any hardware cloth of the correct size locally to make a robbing screen. I'll order some, but it will take a few days to get here.

How long will the robbers be interested in my poor nucs?

And note to self: making up nucs when a dearth seems to be setting in isn't a terrific idea. Next time, put robbing screens in place beforehand :eek:
 

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You can get away with using screen door screen for a robbing screen. That is what is on my first two hives. #8 hardware cloth does make a nicer robbing screen.
 

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Hi Spring Green, I'm in Eldersburg and had robbing issues of my own a few times. I found the solution, for me at least, was to feed the hives DOING the robbing. You can try closing the robbing hives for a few days (I've done both the robbers and victims at the same time). If they have screened bottom boards and ventilated inner covers, they should be fine. You can give them water over the ventilated cover using a perforated mason jar, if it's going to be really hot.
But honestly, if you can figure out which hives are doing the robbing (maybe dust the bees going into the victim hives with powdered sugar and see which big hives they go home to), try feeding them. I figured that if they wanted food, I would give them food.
 

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I've never had to try it, but I heard a state apiarist say that when robbing is occurring in a bee yard, a good way to stop it quickly is to pull the top covers off all the hives and put them all in a defensive posture.

Wayne
 

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On the entrance reducer note: I always have the reducers on, so I never think to tell people to use them. According to Seeley "Most nest entrances consisted of a single knothole or crack with a total area of just 10 to 30 square centimeters (2 to 5 square inches)." This would be consistent with the larger hole on the entrance reducer and that is what I use.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
The nucs already had entrance reducers on, but it seems that the sheer numbers of invaders was the issue. One nuc is likely dead, but the one with the new queen seemed to be OK, relatively, when I peeked last night. She was still alive, and the house bees were clinging to her cage. I gave them an internal feeder and closed the entrance entirely.

I'm going to the big city (lol, just Frederick) later after picking my older sons up from swim team practice to look for some wire screen. Meanwhile, the nucs are still closed up with wet towels on them...with marauding hordes trying to get in.

I thought hard about opening all the hives...I tracked the robbers back to my biggest hive last night...but my neighbor started cutting hay last evening, and my hives sit on the line between the hay field and our property. Normally, he says they are fine and didn't even realize they were there until late May (!), but they were super crabby when I was working them, and I don't want him to be attacked while making hay (I want him to be willing to sell me hay). But I might have to resort to it.

I have been considering putting an open feeder at the other side of my property -- we own a good bit of acreage -- to draw them off, but I have honey supers on both hives full of uncapped honey and a third being drawn. So I'm not sure how to manage that.

I'm looking for somewhere else I could put the nucs, some miles away, but I won't be able to keep an eye on them, and I won't know about neighboring hives. At least here I know it's just my bees doing the robbing.

I feel really bad that the bees paid for my learning. Sigh.

ETA: yes, I can close the robbers in. They have SBB and should be fine. I'll do that tomorrow if they don't stop trying to get into the nucs today.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Fingers carefully crossed....

We ran into town, and while I couldn't find 8 ga hardware cloth, I did find metal window screening. When we got back, I cut a strip off and went out to the nucs. I moved them, brushed off bees, stapled the screens over the entrances, and then moved them again to the front yard under a tree for some shade.

I just looked out at them....NO robbers in sight.

A quick peek showed a living queen in the one. Unfortunately, it seems that the robbers got away with both nucs' honey stores, so both will be fed sugar syrup. I hope bee numbers are sufficent to care for the purchased queen and raise a queen in the second. We shall see how they do, I guess.

Lesson learned.
 

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Glad to hear you got the robbing under control. I started this year with robbing screens right from the start and haven't taken them off yet. The bees seem fine with the arrangement.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Glad to hear you got the robbing under control. I started this year with robbing screens right from the start and haven't taken them off yet. The bees seem fine with the arrangement.
I think this is what I will do from now on. It was too terrible popping the tops and seeing the shredded comb and dead bees in the bottoms.

Hopefully the one nuc will accept the new queen after all the mayhem. She is a locally mated VSH derived lady, and I'd like to see how she does.

I saw the neighbor baling hay and trekked out to ask him if the bees bothered him, and he said they didn't bat an eye as he went by. Awesome!
 

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Spring Green, I love visiting Frederick because I work in Baltimore which I do not like (I grew up in NYC, a little bigger than both of those!).
I bought a virgin VSH from VP queens 2 years ago and once she was mated the workers promptly prepared to supersede her, go figure. FYI, I no longer feed nucs, I give them stores from the big hives and let the big hives work on the empty frames.
Glad to hear things have improved.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
SuburbanRancher, I wanted to let you know I enjoy reading your blog!

I hate Baltimore too, but Frederick is kind of fun. We don't go to Frederick or Westminster often, as our little town has everything we need for the most part, except for a Wegman's, but it isn't an ordeal if we have to. I like it.

My VSH related queen is from Fairytale. I work in southern MD on weekends, so I can easily run up New Hampshire Ave and stop by Heysers to pick up queens...he has a queen webcam up so you can see if any are available and then just drop by with some cash and walk out with the queen of your choice! It's pretty cool, really. If my other split doesn't work, I might try a queen from HT Krantz....and then hope these expensive queens aren't superseded, lol.

I thought about going back into the big hives for some more good frames to feed the nucs with, but I'll be risking heatstroke today (it is so humid today!) and the big hives were jerks the other day. Normally they are very calm, but the last couple times, they pinged off my veil, guards kept buzzing the back of my head (that kind of freaked me out) and wouldn't leave me alone until I walked behind the trees and waited, then they would wait to see if I came back out and start hassling me. I got it done, but it wasn't pretty. So for now, the nucs have frame feeders....I also left them shut in, as some robbers came back last evening and looked hard for a way in. Looks like I'll have to find a bucket and try open feeding to distract the big bullies.

I didn't expect any honey this year, but my big hives are 5 mediums deep. Maybe when it's a little cooler, I'll pull some frames before I start any open feeding, freeze them, and see where the bees end up as far as stores. If they don't need the frames, then we will get a little taste.
 

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I like Mount Airy, I enjoy visiting the downtown area- Laurienzo is yummy.

Open feeding tends to attract wasps and hornets this late in the season and they can cause their own problems. Earlier in the spring it's more plausible, try feeding inside the hives if you're going to feed. Pulling frames is a good plan if you know they're honey. I plan to harvest this weekend. It'll be my best year from the looks of things, this spring was fantastic.

Thank you for the blog compliment.
 
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