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Author Topic: Is this robbing? If not, what?  (Read 1502 times)
phill
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« on: June 21, 2009, 10:24:24 AM »

Can anyone explain this behavior?



The video isn't too good (sorry; I don't know how to work the camera properly), but the bees are all bunched up on the entrance board. At a few points they're crawling over each other. Are they fighting? I don't know what that looks like, but what I see looks relatively mild.

I'm a relatively new beek (2nd year) in central Mass. I have 2 hives; this behavior is occurring in the stronger one. At the other hive-- which I'm feeding now-- things are normal. But there's definitely some excitement at this hive.

This hive has 13-14 good full frames, excellent brood pattern. From a nuc that I hived in early May. The state inspector was just here last week and thought it looked strong and healthy, so it's not just my beginner's opinion.

We've had lots of rain recently, and not much foraging. Yesterday, when I noticed this behavior beginning, it was warm and humid-- maybe ventilation could be an issue?-- but it was the first day in a while that the bees could forage. Last night I checked this hive after dark, and the bees were crowded on the entrance board-- relatively calm, although there was still a bit of a buzz. It's just starting raining again this morning-- shortly after I took the video-- and the crowd has dispersed.

I'd suspect robbing, but:
   - why wouldn't robbers go for the weaker hive?
   - I don't see any flights around the hive; all the action is right at the front door
   - I don't see bees scuttling back and forth sideways looking for openings
   - I don't see any dead bees, nor bees on the ground around the hive
   - they aren't at all aggressive-- didn't bother me at all when I leaned over to take this video
   - it's not getting more (or less) intense: about the same level of activity for a day now

Can anyone enlighten me? Thanks.

« Last Edit: June 21, 2009, 10:33:40 AM by TwT » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2009, 10:37:25 AM »

It is hard to tell anything conclusively from the video,  but my guess in that it is NOT robbing.  The bees on the landing board seem pretty calm and there is not a lot of bees hovering in the air.

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phill
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2009, 12:15:22 PM »

Thanks for that reassurance. It doesn't seem like robbing to me, for what that's worth. The bees are excited but not frantic.

There's a big cluster just inside the entrance, causing a traffic jam. And the crowd on the landing board. No other signs of distress. No swarm cells.

Again I'm wondering: ventilation? It's still sticky, humid weather here...
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2009, 12:33:31 PM »

It looks like a normal entrance on a not all that booming hive.  When you DO see a lot of bees hovering especially if it's on a sunny afternoon and especially if it ends after an hour or so, then it's just orientation...

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#orientation
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm
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Hethen57
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2009, 01:40:17 PM »

I noticed that Orientation activity in front of one of my nucs yesterday. (it looked like I was bulging with bees, but I knew it wasn't that full)..basically just bubbling out of the entrance and repetedly climing over each other above the entrance, some bearding, and lots of bees in hovering flight on front of the hive.  Lasted for about an hour, then it was back to normal entrance traffic and one of my other hives was doing it.
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phill
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2009, 02:58:24 PM »

Again, thanks for the reassurance. It's been going on for a full day now, and it's pretty clearly not an emergency. But it's something I haven't seen before, and I'm still curious.

There's a semi-permanent cluster of bees, about 2-3 deep, on one side of the landing board. Others are flying in and going right for the congested area-- landing on top of the pile, climbing over the others to get in-- when there's plenty of clear landing space just a few inches away.

I'm sure they know what they're doing, but I'm baffled.
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tlynn
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2009, 06:40:12 PM »

Yes, not sure I see much of anything going on.  Robbing behavior is a frenzy - pairs of bees tussling, dead/dying bees in the hive vicinity and lots of chaos.  A busy hive isn't chaotic or aggressive with each other, though it may look to be at first glance.   If you watch your bees frequently and get a feel for their behavior on a day to day basis, you'll know robbing when you see it.

With that little activity (don't know, perhaps it was a cool day), you may want to close down that entrance some until your hive builds up.  That is if you have decent brood pattern, eggs, etc.  This will give guard bees less opening to have to protect and may well head off a real robbing event.

You mention bees coming back and landing on top of the others in the little cluster on the landing board - probably the bees oriented themselves to that specific spot and are just coming right back there.  Those GPSs in their brains are quite something - you can close off one side of a hive and a few days later open the other side of the hive and they will come right back to the place that was previously open.
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Joelel
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2009, 08:30:21 PM »

Can anyone explain this behavior?


The video isn't too good (sorry; I don't know how to work the camera properly), but the bees are all bunched up on the entrance board. At a few points they're crawling over each other. Are they fighting? I don't know what that looks like, but what I see looks relatively mild.

I'm a relatively new beek (2nd year) in central Mass. I have 2 hives; this behavior is occurring in the stronger one. At the other hive-- which I'm feeding now-- things are normal. But there's definitely some excitement at this hive.

This hive has 13-14 good full frames, excellent brood pattern. From a nuc that I hived in early May. The state inspector was just here last week and thought it looked strong and healthy, so it's not just my beginner's opinion.

We've had lots of rain recently, and not much foraging. Yesterday, when I noticed this behavior beginning, it was warm and humid-- maybe ventilation could be an issue?-- but it was the first day in a while that the bees could forage. Last night I checked this hive after dark, and the bees were crowded on the entrance board-- relatively calm, although there was still a bit of a buzz. It's just starting raining again this morning-- shortly after I took the video-- and the crowd has dispersed.

I'd suspect robbing, but:
   - why wouldn't robbers go for the weaker hive?
   - I don't see any flights around the hive; all the action is right at the front door
   - I don't see bees scuttling back and forth sideways looking for openings
   - I don't see any dead bees, nor bees on the ground around the hive
   - they aren't at all aggressive-- didn't bother me at all when I leaned over to take this video
   - it's not getting more (or less) intense: about the same level of activity for a day now

Can anyone enlighten me? Thanks.



Hi,When bees from an other hive tries to get in an other one to rob,the guards of the hive will attack and kill the robbers.

The reason for this is.

Why are there bees on the outside of my hive?
Typically beekeepers call this bearding because it often looks like the hive has a beard. Causes are heat, congestion and lack of ventilation. Make sure they have room and ventilation and don't worry about it.

Bees bearding is like people sweating. It's what bees do when they are hot.

It's good to cover the bases and then accept it. If you were sweating you'd take what steps were reasonable (turn on the fan, open the window, take off your sweater, drink lots of water) and then you'd accept that it's just hot.

With the bees, make sure they have top and bottom ventilation, (open the bottom entrance, remove the tray if you have a SBB, prop open the top box, slide a super back to make a gap) make sure they have enough room (put supers on as needed) and don't worry about it. Bearding is not proof they are about to swarm. It's proof they are hot. I think lack of ventilation contributes to an "overcrowding swarm" but it's not the only cause and it's nothing to be concerned about if you've taken care of the bees having ventilation and room.

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iddee
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2009, 11:57:54 AM »

No, that isn't robbing. THIS is robbing.......

http://s81.photobucket.com/albums/j226/Iddee/Robbing/
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« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2009, 12:50:07 AM »

The bees in the center part of the landing board are fanning, moving air into or out of the hive in an effort to ventilate it.

If robbing were going on, in the early stages, you'd see bees hovering around the entrance, landing out of sight of the guard bees, ie sides of bottom board or hive body, then streaking across the bottom board from one side to the other while making faints towards the entrance.  If the guard bees fail to respond during one of the faints the bee will then enter the hive.  This activity begins with a few bees and is more apt to occur during a dearth of nectar then builds over time.
In the final hours of the hive you see activity like those in the pictures Iddee posted.  All out warfare.  The hive is devistated, the queen is usually killed at some point, and all  that is left is a pile of bees and scraps of cappings.
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phill
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« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2009, 06:38:50 AM »

Thanks again, to you more experienced folks, for the reassurances.

So OK, it's definitely not robbing. That's good. I guess it's a form of bearding. I've given the hive more ventilation and there's less of it now-- although it's still noticeable.

We're now having our 18th straight day of rain/showers/drizzle, and I suspect they'd go back to normal if the sun ever comes out and they start regular foraging again.
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