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Bees are tough to raise

Discussion in 'Bee Pests, Diseases, Predators, Robbing' started by babsbag, Oct 5, 2016.

  1. Oct 5, 2016
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    Yesterday I noticed a huge number of bees in the air around one hive. It was late in the day so I just let them be bees. This morning they were back at it so I know they are being robbed. I have a robber screen that I went and installed and it seemed to reduce the number of bees around the hive. But I am sure that I also closed out some of the hive's occupants. I guess the screen should go on at night. Next year I will put one on every hive all of the time.

    When it got dark there was a huge cluster of bees on the lid. I opened the trap door on the screen hoping that they would just file on in... they didn't. Bees came out instead. So I took off the lid, again hoping that they would just go down into the hive...they didn't...they just hung out on top of the frames. So I brushed off as many as I could and put the lid back on, probably killing 100 at least. I also got stung...multiple times. Twice on one hand through my gloves and three or four time through my sock. I know that working bees in the dark is never a good thing.

    This is not a weak hive, I was very surprised they were being robbed. I don't know if it the hive sitting near them doing the robbing or another hive, I have neighbors with probably 10 hives at least. I have three smaller hives and they are fine so far.

    I read that I should lock them up for three day, but that I need to give them food a water, but I am guessing that that would be for a nuc, not an established hive. Fortunately it isn't really hot here so they should be ok.

    Do you think that the bees clustered on the hive were the occupants or robbers that didn't go home? Did I do the right thing trying to get them to go inside? I need to go in and check for a queen as I understand that sometimes the robbers will kill her. There were a lot of bee fights going on outside of the hive today. When I opened the little trap door on the robbing screen the bees just came pouring out, just not sure if they are mine or the enemy.

    Any ideas, thoughts, experiences, etc. ? I have seen this before and it usually means the loss of the hive but I have never tried to stop if before either. This time I decided to try and intervene.
     
  2. Oct 5, 2016
    Maggiesdad

    Maggiesdad Loving the herd life

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    Hey Babs-

    I had some robbing last year, but none this year thank goodness.

    I would reduce the entrance to where 3-4 bees can fill the opening. Dust the bees you think are interlopers with powdered sugar, till they look like ghost bees. Then you can get an idea of what's going on, and who's going where.
    Keep the robbing screen on, put a wet sheet over the hive if it does get hot.
     
  3. Oct 5, 2016
    Maggiesdad

    Maggiesdad Loving the herd life

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    My robbing screens are homemade, and have a entrance about 6" off to the side. HomeBees can figure it out, but the robbers just cluster on the screen directly in front of the original hole, where the delicious smells come out, lol
     
  4. Oct 6, 2016
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    @Maggiesdad That is a great idea about the sugar. I have telescoping covers and it is hard to tell if the bees are getting under and in or not, the sugar should help with that.

    I probably started this unknowingly. I had some comb honey in the freezer and my freezer got defrosted by mistake. The containers that the comb was in did not keep out things that dripped on them so I put the comb outside for the bees. It is about 300' from the hives, but I read that feeding, no matter how far away, can start robbing. Learn something new all of the time. The honey sat there totally unnoticed for about a week then yesterday it was discovered. And yesterday the robbing started.

    When I opened the little trap door on the screen the bees just came pouring out. I am not sure if those were good bees or bad bees. Sure wish I could put little dots on these guys so I know which ones are mine. That would be a full time job. The door is open tonight so hopefully tomorrow the home bees can keep the marauders at bay.

    Do robbing bees go back to their hive at night? It is possible that the robbers live literally 2 feet away. Guess some sugar will sort that out too but not sure what to do if they are neighbors.
     
  5. Oct 6, 2016
    Maggiesdad

    Maggiesdad Loving the herd life

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    Ummm.... yup, that'll do it! :he
    Oh well, if you can ID the robbing hive, give them a full inspection. Having their box in disarray for a few minutes will help change their focus. Reduce everybody's entrances till situation is under control.
     
  6. Oct 6, 2016
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    I sugared the bees and I don't see any entering the neighbor hive, they seem pretty calm considering the carnage going on next door. I have another hive under attack too, not as bad but bad enough. I reduced the entrance down to one bee size and closed up the back and top entrances. Hopefully they can hold their own.
     
  7. Oct 7, 2016
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    Things were a lot quieter in the bee yard today. There are still a lot of bees trying to get in under the lid but none coming out of the little door on the screen so that is good. Yesterday they were pouring out of the hive so I am thinking that this means that there were no or at least less robbers in the hive. I just hope that I have some resident bees left when this is done. Tonight there were a few on the hive but quite a few flying around the lights, not sure why. I am watching my other hives closely, they are a lot weaker than this one. I guess I will be feeding heavily this winter. *sigh*
     
  8. Oct 8, 2016
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    Bees rob each other? Gee, sounds just like people!
     
  9. Oct 9, 2016
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    I lost the hive. :hit I went in and checked it today and there is no honey, no queen, no brood, nothing. But I now think that is was hornets that started the carnage and a robbing band of bees finished it off. I am fighting hornets everywhere, it is horrid. They will go into the hive and kill the bees, eat the brood, and then take the honey for dessert. I have closed all the entrances down to two bee widths and will be shutting them down more tomorrow. It is really sad to watch this; I am really upset. I will be hanging some hornet traps but I am just worried that it is too late. :hit
     
  10. Oct 9, 2016
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    That is awful. I had no idea bees and hornets did that. I am sorry about your hive.