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Weird bearding on my hives after robbing

1812 Views 10 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Trin
So I go home at lunch and they are robbing. Not much I can do as the reducers are on the smallest anyway.
There is a bad Dearth still on here with little rain :(
Here is a video of 3 tapings into one. 1st part is at lunch but I couldn't do anything as I had to get back to work, middle and end are after I suited up and played with them.
More info in the description of the video.
But they were bearding not only on the bottom but up at the very upper part of the hive :s:scratch:
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they are robbing. Not much I can do as the reducers are on the smallest anyway.
You can install a robbing screen, and when I had some persistent robbing I only managed to stop it when I draped a bed sheet over the hive for a few days to totally confuse the robbers until they gave up.
It is very difficult to stop robbing once started. All those screens don't work. Prevention is the key. Having hives strong enough to defend in August, not open feeding, limiting in hive feeding only to night time, being careful not to spill honey or syrup outside of the hive, small hive entrances, not doing inspections of vulnerable hives during the day, not keeping the hives open for too long if an inspection is necessary, making sure hives are queen-right all the time, not moving older bees from one to another are the things that I do. I don't even remember last time I had a robbing issue.
Not sure of bearding except guessing its because of being under attack. Get robbing screens and close the notch on inner cover. Its less guarded and allowing easy access. J
Here they are last night and this morning. Still not sure why they are bearded up top and then nothing till the bottom. I have never seen that before.

I can't feed at night unless I go in at dark which I am not going to do and get pelted by upset bees. And I did inside feed before but it still allowed some robbing. Some things are out of my control for preventing robbing like the weather as we are in a drought. I outside water and had only open fed a couple times, last week, I think Monday almost all water with a tiny bit of syrup & Friday- so not sure why they would rob if they had open feeding 30 yards around the corner ?
Can't get screening mesh small enough to make robbing screens Anywhere ! only thing I could get was 1/4" mesh and that doesn't work.
#8 is hard to get. Window screen will do in a pinch. Close the notches with duct tape. Are you having them clean wet supers above the inner cover? J
Another thought. You could use duct tape on the screen to halve the openings. You would really only need to do this on the lower inch of the screen. Above that, you could tape over it all. You want the hive smell to attract the robbers to the bottom while your bees know that the entrance is above. J
#8 is hard to get. Window screen will do in a pinch. Close the notches with duct tape. Are you having them clean wet supers above the inner cover? J
I don't have any of that that is metal only plastic and they have chewed through that before on something else. I don't want to fully close it tight as it's going to be 90 the next few days and they are already bearding at 2:00 today so I want some air flow. I may see if I can crisscross the 1/4" mesh to over cross enough to block bees out but allow some air flow out too.
The top Mediums are Bin feeders inside. I don't have any supers to clean, I have left all their Honey for them except 4 medium frames I had to take out in beginning of June I think it was. I have not had any issue with the robbing except for the last 2 days due to no rain around here. We keep missing ALL the rain in the area :(
To be honest the robbing on that one hive only was not a lot on the entry board with some pollen balls on the ground in front and no fighting at that upper entrance at all. No wax that I saw and there were a lot of bees bearding with pollen still on their legs. I am starting to wonder if they just had a big hatch going on and maybe some drifter bees tried to come in and it being so hot/humid.
I won't be feeding inside out out for a little while and let them venture out more.

Rain coming today..........IF it actually hits my house, will be nice
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Well, no rain :(
But I did manage to screen up the hives late yesterday just to be on the safe side.
Since no 1/8" hardware cloth anywhere due to the pandemic I took 1/4" and doubled it to make tiny holes. Covered the upper entrance and took out the grass from the round holes and covered them too. Going to be around 90º here for the next few days so will see how that goes.
Here is a video of then before screening and after this morning. I will be posting more videos in the coming days so I have a log of how this all works out. you can subscribe if you want to follow it or just check back to see what is new on there.
Hi Linda - I just had a similar situation. I had lots of frenzied activity at the entrance of my two hives, so I closed the entrances down to the smallest opening and covered both hives with a wet sheet, leaving the sides open so that the resident bees could find their way back in. At the end of the day, the hives had bearding, but on the bottom on the screen board (beneath the hive). I assumed that these were bees from my hives just settling in for the night because they were confused as to how to get back in. But now I wonder if they are not my bees. How is your new box doing? My hives have been under robbing attack for the past several days, I imagine due to the extended drought we are experiencing. However, I see tons of bees coming back to the hive full of pollen.
I am wondering about something here. Is it robbing in that you are seeing fighting at the entrances? If you could see in the bottom entrance are there a lot of dead bees under the combs?

Or could it be that a local colony absconded and chose to find new homes in your hives? You might want to check mite loads. If indeed there is a lot more bees staying with your three hives I would think either there was a tremendous brood hatch (not likely) Or some hive left it's home for some reason and perhaps found your hives as a potential home. Just guessing here, I would expect robbing bees to go back to their home hive at night.

Maybe time to make a late season "split" sort of. I have no experience like yours. I'm not sure how hard it would be to check the bearding bees for nurse bees. But you could increase space in the new hive and check it for eggs, if none then get another queen or donate a frame of fresh eggs for them to make their own. It would be interesting to install a queen in the new hive and deposit the top bearding bees at it's entrance and see if they march in.

Then again maybe I'm all wet.
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