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Author Topic: What works to stop robbing?  (Read 1236 times)

Offline maysday

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What works to stop robbing?
« on: July 13, 2012, 04:52:35 PM »
I've only been in Bee Keeping about 5 years and I've never seen robbing on this scale. I don't know what triggered it other than we were in a dearth. I had not opened any hives; it was to dry and temps were around 104-105 many days. There was no feed out to draw them and I didn't realize what was happening until the loss of the first hive. These robbers attached one after another and I've lost six hives and am down to 3 swarms I caught in the spring. They are darker than my bees and some are black. I've been fighting them for two weeks. I hose them down when I see they are back and I first tried mopping the entrance down with Vick's salve, added boards for them to dash themselves into and laid bird netting over the hives. I continued to loose bees so I made robber screens after draping with wet sheets. The wet sheets is what saved the three remaining hives. Salt water solution doesn't seem to deter them. Robbers keep trying to take them out. We finally got some rain (about 4 days) and cooler temperatures so I had hoped it was over.
Not so. I am having to keep the sheets over the hives and robber screens are in place. How long can this go on? What else can I do? I would appreciate any help or advice you can offer. I can't tell you how sick I am over the loss of my bees as it took me five years to have what I had. Thank you in advance.

Offline Blackwater Bee

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2012, 05:01:09 PM »
 IMHO, The Stronger and ( Healthier ) Hives will survive, the weaker ones will perish, there's not much more that you can do for them.

Offline maysday

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2012, 05:04:34 PM »
That is what is baffling about these robbers...they hit the hives with the most honey first. They hulled them out. These were not sick, weak or queen-less hives. They were my top honey producers. The smaller groups which was caught in the spring is all I have left. Rules didn't apply here.
This is not just a few bees at the entrance it is like swarms moving from one hive to another.

Offline Larry Bees

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2012, 05:07:12 PM »
The only thing that I do is to make the entrances really, really small, but I'm sure that you have already done that. Larry

Offline maysday

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2012, 05:20:53 PM »
Thanks Larry. I have a robber screen up but may have to try that. It's so hot I hate to use a reducer where only 1 bee at a time can go in and out. I guess it's the only thing I haven't done.

Offline AllenF

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2012, 08:44:38 PM »
Reduce down and don't feed your hives.    That keeps that majority of robbing down.   Where are you located by the way? 

Offline maysday

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2012, 10:08:20 PM »
Allen I'm in central Alabama. I'm not feeding but may need to later if these bees survive. Thank you.

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2012, 01:19:09 AM »
You Might want to catch a bunch, couple hundred, of these bees, power them and BeeLine them. If you don't know what that is, Hardwood has a great video on this site. Search Bee lining. it is in the Honey Bee Removal section.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline maysday

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2012, 10:15:44 AM »
I have never done that but then this is the first time the need has come up. I only have a vague idea off bee lining but I don't know how I'd catch 200 when the most I've been able to catch is about a doz. They don't seem any more aggressive than my bees but I can't bait them to a jar under their nose with a little honey. This is a nightmare for me. If they kill off what I have left I think that will be the end of bee keeping for me. It will be a big void in my life. I can't replace them. I'm 68 years old and getting too old to be climbing trees to catch a swarm. Thank you for the idea. I'll look into it and see if I can adapt it to find the source of the problem.

Offline yockey5

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2012, 11:53:59 AM »
maysday, where are you located?

Offline maysday

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2012, 01:11:06 PM »
I am in Tuscaloosa County Alabama about 60 miles from Birmingham and 90 miles from Meridian, Mississippi
We are in a drought and that no doubt has played a big part.

Offline annette

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2012, 05:37:21 PM »
I have had some really bad robbing over the years. I always do the same thing: Put the entrance down to the 1" size or even smaller, place a robber screen on and then place a soaking wet sheet over the hive. If I keep this up for a few days, it seems to help.

Good Luck
Annette

Offline maysday

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2012, 07:43:21 PM »
Thanks Annette. I've been fighting the robbers for over two weeks and I keep the sheets over the few remaining bees I have. Every time I think it's over they come back. Unlike past robbing experience they started with the hives that had the most honey. I guess now they are reduced to going after the swarms.
Thanks again.

Offline shinbone

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Re: What works to stop robbing?
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2012, 02:10:01 PM »
I had a weak hive fall victim to multiple robbing episodes this year (my first).  I've found that once robbing starts, it is very hard to stop - the robbers seem to remember and constantly return to the easy mark, and the victim hive gets weaker with each robbing episode becoming yet more vulnerable to robbing.  This particular hive was hit so badly on multiple occasions, that it now may not survive the winter.

I finally stopped the robbing by building and installing robber screens modeled after those shown on the U.C. Davis entomology website.  The U.C. Davis link no longer works for me and I can't post a URL since I am new, but photos of the screens can be found at:  curbstonevalley.com/blog/?p=7329 (just google it).

The design of the screen does little to restrict home bee traffic (unlike some commercially available robbing screens), but the robbers have been thwarted by it for the last two months.  Since the screen allows free flow of the home bees, I see no problem with leaving it on the weak hive until they finally completely die or build back to a strength sufficient to protect themselves.  In fact, I am thinking that I might just install such robbing screens on all new hives until they build up to at least one full deep.

Good luck and I hope you save your hives!
Zone 5B, elevation 5400 ft.