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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had never experienced a major robbing event before. Had (past tense) a weaker 4 over 4 colony that lost its queen, wasn’t able to make a new one despite frames of eggs being added over a month. Had an extra queen and she was released and starting to lay. I added a frame of brood to boost the population. Also reduced the entrance. I did not put any syrup on it.

Later in the afternoon I came back to the apiary, a huge number of robbers was overwhelming the colony. I had never seen anything like it. The colony was completely stripped and bees dead. Probably should have just let the colony die out instead of trying to “fix” it.

I don’t want a repeat so I plan on staying out of the apiary until we get some rain and hopefully a fall flow.
 

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It took me a few years to realize that if a hive is faltering, quit trying to save it. It is a waste of resources.
 

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One thing to try when other hives in the apiary are robbing a single hive. Open up all of the robbing hives by removing the inner and outer covers so the hives are totally exposed. I did this one year when I had too many hives in a location during a dearth. The robbing stopped within 30 minutes. Presumably, the robbers stay in their home hive to protect its resources. Make sure you cover the hives back up when the sun begins setting.
Surprisingly, this works to stop robbing in its tracks.
 

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Wow, Eric, that's totally counter-intuitive, but if it's working for ya....good to know.

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Gotta' be vigilant after honey take-off in the late summer. Once that nectar flow stops, you should already have those robbing screens on.

Yes, you'll lose some gathering efficiency, so timing is a factor, but not when you weigh it against total loss of several colonies. The bees will adapt to the new entrances quickly, so just put them on and don't worry about it.

My only reservation is the hot weather like I'm choking on this week. Temperatures like 107 degrees F, 112, 114, 111, not to mention the smoke from a wild fire down near Pismo Beach / 5 cities. In this situation, the bees need to be able to fan the hive as efficiently as possible, so leave the screens off.

A friend lost a colony once when it hit 116 degrees F (46-2/3 degrees C) and all the combs melted and fell. The bees took off.

To prevent such a tragedy, give them extra water trays with floating blocks of wood, a sun shade, even a fan so the combs do not melt. A bottom board with 9 or more inches of landing space really helps them fan the hive when it gets too hot. When the temperature cools off and things settle down, get the robbing screens back on to keep robbing to a minimum.

I'm not too sure if I would turn on a lawn sprinkler nor mist sprayer - that may or may not help.

If they are robbing in hot weather, do not shut them in with wood. Bend a piece of screen or hardware cloth over double and block the entire entrance to stop the robbing with full ventilation. Hardware cloth can be cut into strips and rolled up to fill the cork holes to allow further ventilation. The dial - type entrance controls also work nicely to this effect.

It is presently too hot to treat for the varroa mites with formic acid, so that is on hold while the replacement queens are being checked. From here on in to Winter preparation the goal is to get strong colonies up to 130 or more pounds (=59 kilos -> that's for 2 deep U.S. standard Langstroth brood boxes plus a honey box).
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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What eric did, opening up all the hives, is something I have read about before. Wish I knew who to credit for this strategy. It is only effective if it is YOUR bees that are doing the robbing
 

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Ok, two questions then, how do you know it is your bees from your other hives that are robbing? And once you cover the robbers' hive up at night, won't they go straight into robbing the next day?

When I had robbing, I made a robbing screen, and eventually had to cover the hive with a bedsheet for a few days to confuse the robbers as it was going on for about a week.
 

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Ok, two questions then, how do you know it is your bees from your other hives that are robbing? And once you cover the robbers' hive up at night, won't they go straight into robbing the next day?

When I had robbing, I made a robbing screen, and eventually had to cover the hive with a bedsheet for a few days to confuse the robbers as it was going on for about a week.
I put robber screens on all of my hives in the spring and remove them when I am winterizing the hives.
When I tried this, it was pretty easy to see which hives were doing the robbing. There was a ton of activity at the entrances of the robber's hives. However, I opened all of the hives except for the hive that was being robbed. That hive was closed up until the robbing subsided.
You are absolutely correct and the robbers were back the next morning. I re-opened all of the hives again and left them open all day. There was not any robbing activity on the third day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I get the logic of opening the hives. I guess you would have to be located close to your apiary to monitor these while open. What about attracting other robbers like yellow jackets? I can see a lot of warfare between those wanting a piece of the treasure.
 

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What eric did, opening up all the hives, is something I have read about before. Wish I knew who to credit for this strategy. It is only effective if it is YOUR bees that are doing the robbing
Exactly.
I say opening up the hives is not a wise advice.
The nearest foreign bee yard I am aware of is probably couple minutes of bee flight.
My own alternate location is about a minute of flight time away.
Heck, I will be an idiot to open up my entire backyard to invite the foreign slaughter.
 

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Yeah, because I move my bees at night, and because the blooms out here have been relatively short duration, I almost always would opt for the robbing screens with the "privacy screens" so that the invading bees cannot see the bees milling out of the entrance and up to the exit.

Placing the honey as far from the entrance and also pitting the cluster right at the entrance is also a big help to minimizing the body counts. Invading bees have to go all the way through the brood nest to steal honey, so they WILL get caught early on.
 

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Quick and dirty method is to throw a piece of cloth over the entrance as a robbing screen. Bees can get around the edges but it slows them down.
 
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