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Author Topic: Help, I'm being robbed  (Read 2065 times)
phill
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« on: August 26, 2013, 01:20:56 PM »

I've had a persistent problem with robbing. Several times I've had to close down hives-- part-way or completely-- until the robbers went away. Then things go smoothly for a while. But eventually the robbers come back.

Since I'm down to 1 hive, I know the robbers are coming from a nearby apiary, or maybe they're feral. Wherever they're from, they're extremely aggressive. I just closed down my hive, and the robbers kept buzzing around me for at least 10 minutes even after I left the area. I had to wait before I could go back indoors, so I wouldn't bring them in with me.

My hive is reasonably strong-- 2 full deeps-- and should be able to defend itself. But the robbers just keep coming and I'm afraid my bees will be exhausted.

Any thoughts?
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Arkwood
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 01:35:26 PM »

have you tried a robbing screen?

http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/Moving-and-Robbing-Screen/productinfo/517/
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GSF
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 01:42:22 PM »

(just asking) How did you conclude it was robbing?
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phill
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 01:46:06 PM »

Yes. The screen usually stops the robbers, after a while. But they come back, maybe a month later.

It's obvious robbing: frantic behavior, wrestling at the entrance.
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2013, 01:52:34 PM »

I think I've read that some folks will open feed away from the yard. It's said that will draw the robber bees away. don't know tho. I think feeding in the yard was discouraged.
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T Beek
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2013, 03:33:07 PM »

Yes. The screen usually stops the robbers, after a while. But they come back, maybe a month later.

It's obvious robbing: frantic behavior, wrestling at the entrance.

Sprinklers work if you can get one near the victim, so does a wet blanket or stuffing the entrance w/ grass.  A rob out can occur in a relatively short time so being around your bees is helpful.  Sometimes you don't know until its too late.  If it was me and mine I;d close down the entrances to the size of one or two bees and feed all hives in the beeyard.   That should keep 'your' bees occupied.  Your neighbors bees are another detail and huddle to jump.

As for 'open feeding' I do it at least twice a year, once in the Spring before the dandelions bloom, once in the fall if goldenrod has finished and weather permits flying.  I do have enough space to place the open feeder over 100 yards away which seems to prevent further robbing.  WARNING; you will attract yellow jackets with open feeding..
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T Beek
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2013, 04:27:16 PM »

Yes. The screen usually stops the robbers, after a while. But they come back, maybe a month later.

It's obvious robbing: frantic behavior, wrestling at the entrance.

Robbing occurs whenever there is a dearth, an absence of nectar, rarely during a flow.  Feed your bees during a dearth, especially those presumed weak.  I feed them all, weak and strong, and its worked for me and mine.  If you only feed the weak (or victim) colony they can become real attractive to other colonies as well as wasps and hornets.

A weak colony can be totally destroyed, the queen murdered and left useless in just a few hours.  It is not pretty.  It really pays to know (watch and observe) when dearths occur in the regions we keep our bees. 

Observation and proper action is the BEST remedy to prevent robbing IMHO. Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2013, 07:50:14 AM »

Orientation is often mistaken for robbing... make sure they are being robbed.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm
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T Beek
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« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2013, 09:29:06 AM »

Orientation is often mistaken for robbing... make sure they are being robbed.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm


Robbing could also be mistaken for the workers removing or restricting drones.  Mine have been kicking them out for a couple weeks already, likely due to drought, lack of nectar.....but....we got over 3" of rain over the last few days, hopefully just in time for the goldenrod flow which is about 50% in bloom right now. 

Gonna be a long winter.............
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phill
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« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2013, 11:15:53 AM »

This is robbing; no question about it.

I put in a robbing screen, and they kept coming. I put a wet sheet over the hive, and they kept coming. So at night I closed the entrance completely with screen. As of this morning, they're back, still buzzing frantically around, looking for an opening.

They'll give up eventually. But how can I prevent them from coming back when I re-open the hive?

This is not a weak hive: 2 very full deeps. But the robbers are relentless.
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« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2013, 11:35:34 AM »

  If it was me and mine I;d close down the entrances to the size of one or two bees and feed all hives in the beeyard.   

He only has one hive -- and if it is strong why feed it? He certainly don't want to feed the apariy next door. If you have tried screens, wet sheets, etc. I guess I would gry the sprinkler thing. Maybe you can hold them off till they cease for good.

Sounds like a hard one phil- Good Luck
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John 3:16
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« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2013, 11:41:34 AM »

OK....I'm reaching here, don't know if it's an option, or how far it would have to be, to be effective...But what about moving the hive?
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T Beek
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« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2013, 01:46:06 PM »

If the colony is 'strong' as stated they should be able to defend it, especially if entrances have been reduced.  I've used a sprinkler to slow robbing down before but it only works while its on.

Moving the hive would be an option but you may wind up moving it even closer to the attackers unless their location is known.  Are you sure they are'nt yellow jackets or possibly drones being thrown out?  Just asking, because I have more problems with yellowjackets than with other bees.  Honeybees will usually give up when defenders are on the ball with a small entrance.  Yellowjackets are very persistent.  Did I mention that I hate yellow jackets?

Goldenrod is in full bloom here giving any area robbers something else to do.
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phill
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« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2013, 04:11:50 PM »

After closing up my hive completely for 2 days, I opened the entrance half-way this morning. By afternoon the robbing had resumed, worse than ever.

Again, this is a 2-deep hive, but for some reason they're not deterring the robbers. I'm out of ideas.

Since I know people sometimes mistake orientation flights for robbing, let me reassure you:
- the bees are frantic and very aggressive
- there are tussles at the entrance and dead bees (not yellowjackets) on the ground
- bees are coming in light and leaving heavy. They walk up the front of the hive before taking off, then dip a bit when they fly
- the comb is torn
- when I closed the hive in the evening, a bunch of bees were hovering outside in the morning.

OK? It's certainly robbing, and I can't make it stop. The robbers are coming from somewhere else, and they keep coming back.
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sc-bee
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« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2013, 09:27:53 PM »

Have you used the robber screen and only the top entrance?

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phill
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2013, 06:27:16 AM »

Yes. I've tried a screen, grass in the entrance, wet sheet, and now screening off entrance completely. I have not tried open feeding, since I don't have other hives and don't want to encourage the robbers to visit my property.

In the past I've always  been able to stop the robbing-- although sooner or later they come back. This time it hasn't stopped.
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GSF
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« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2013, 08:18:25 AM »

Phil, something that popped into my mind was to move it as Moots previously said. It seems like that may be your only option at this point, if that is an option.

Don't take my advice as solid because I'm very, very new at this. Something else that popped up in my mind was souring the milk.

If you could possible move the hive, put an empty super with frames in it's place. Using a front entrance feeder put in some sugar water mixed with skin so soft or some other insect "repellant". I don't know if that would repel the robber bees, kill them, or make them hungrier. Just a thought.
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« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2013, 10:36:06 AM »

 huh placing any substance in or near a hive that you are trying to repel robbers from will most assuredly affect the victim colony as well.  

As for moving.....where?  Just turn the entrance around, it 'may' help.  After so long I'm beginning to feel increasingly doubtful that this colony will survive.  A colony that is unable to defend itself when all other precautionary measures have been taken (see above) wasn't strong enough to begin with, IMHO.  

Better luck next year.


One other thing comes to mind;  When was the last time you took a look inside?  All the way to the bottom?  Every frame?  With this much activity it may be a pain, but it sounds like you need to investigate further.  Let us all know what you find.

Dress accordingly  grin
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phill
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« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2013, 11:07:31 AM »

Open the hive and expose every frame at this point? You're kidding, right? I know this hive may be a goner, but that would ensure it.
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T Beek
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« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2013, 12:09:30 PM »

Don't you want to know "if" any bees are even living in there, besides the robbers?  I sure would, but hey that's me  Wink.   I seldom kid. 

I'll bet your queen is long dead, the workers have absconded and/or joined other colonies and the robbers are just cleaning up the remains but none of us will know until you open it up.  Everything else is guesswork.
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phill
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« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2013, 02:42:36 PM »

It's not guesswork when I report there are 2 full deeps.

You're proposing an autopsy before the patient is dead.
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sc-bee
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« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2013, 02:47:24 PM »

If you are still seeing fighting outside the hive I would think it stillhas some origianl occupants. But I am not sure weather robbers from different sources would fight each other.

I am probably about to jinx myself but robbing is something i have not had to experience yet.
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« Reply #22 on: September 02, 2013, 05:32:40 PM »

It's not guesswork when I report there are 2 full deeps.

You're proposing an autopsy before the patient is dead.


How do you know anything about what is going on inside that hive without looking?  You don't.  

When did you last see 2 full deeps of bees?  How many frames of brood and honey were there?

I proposed an inspection on a colony 'best described by your posts' as being robbed out, (dead, done and empty of any resemblance of its former self).  

You have described "robbing that has gone on for over a week" on one hive of bees.   My bet remains placed that they are all dead and gone, but unless 'someone' actually looks we'll never know for certain, will we.  

Sorry, but looking is part of keeping bees.  No room for guesswork or assumptions.  Doing so is at at your bees peril and wastes time best spent investigating.

Robbers can include more than just other honeybees, the list include, hornets (yellowjackest), wasps and other bees like bumbles,,,,oh,,,and beekeepers  grin.
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phill
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« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2013, 05:34:56 PM »

T Beek, I have been looking. That's why I reported-- several times-- 2 full deeps remaining. You aren't required to believe me. And I'm not required to follow your advice. Let's leave it at that, OK?
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T Beek
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« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2013, 05:36:47 PM »

 rolleyes
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« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2013, 06:29:44 PM »

Mind  your manners gentleman. Lips Sealed
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TenshiB
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« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2013, 11:24:00 PM »

Phill, the only solution I can see for now would be to re-locate your hive to a friend's property. Close them up at night and move them very early in the morning (preferably 2 miles away at the least). Consider it a vacation for your bees. You'll need a truck, some straps, and a friend to help you move 'em... I like the one guy's idea of setting up a dummy hive (if you have any spare hardware) in the location of your current hive--this is if you move them.

Again, relocating that hive seems like the best option at this point. And relocating far away will keep your bees from seeing familiar landmarks and becoming confused. I relocated two of my hives this year to some soy fields on a friend's property and the bees are doing great!
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Tumjaiyu
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« Reply #27 on: September 03, 2013, 12:02:51 AM »

Thanks
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TenshiB
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« Reply #28 on: September 03, 2013, 12:14:29 AM »

Same person or are you being robbed, too??
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phill
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« Reply #29 on: September 03, 2013, 08:34:41 AM »

Thanks, TenshiB. That's not something I'm anxious to do, but it may be my only choice.

(BTW the other "Thanks" was not from me. Someone else with a similar problem, I guess.)

During the last week, since I've been taking defensive measures, the robbers have not been getting into my hive-- at least not enough of them to cause major problems. But there's been a real dearth here, and apparently they have nothing else to try. If we start to get even a little bit of a flow, this problem should go away-- for now. I'll hope for that, but meanwhile I'll be looking for a "vacation rental" for the hive.
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phill
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« Reply #30 on: September 06, 2013, 05:46:14 PM »

A happy ending, in case anyone's still paying attention to this thread: The robbing stopped. My hive still looks fairly strong. I don't think the robbers actually accomplished much. But they sure did try.
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GSF
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« Reply #31 on: September 06, 2013, 08:57:23 PM »

Good to hear Phill. As a new beek I still get worried any time I see a bunch of bees flying around the front of my hive. From what I can tell it's always been my bees.
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TenshiB
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« Reply #32 on: September 06, 2013, 11:29:16 PM »

Very glad to hear that!

GSF:  Sometimes what you are seeing, assuming that it's not robbing behavior, is orientation flights. [=
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« Reply #33 on: September 07, 2013, 05:32:08 AM »

Excellent!  I'd like to see some pics of the colony that survived a week of robbing.
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« Reply #34 on: September 07, 2013, 08:52:00 PM »

TenshiB

I'm pretty sure it's been orientation flights but still, I need a whole lot more BeeTV before I'll feel comfortable about it.

It was the same way when I was learning to ID sicknesses, diseases, and other things with my goats several years ago. It seem like anything you see can be tied into two or three possibilities. Time will cure that I'm sure.
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« Reply #35 on: September 08, 2013, 10:28:13 AM »

TBeek must've read OVER the bits where stated your efforts to thwart the robbing behavior and assumed that you were simply hands-off and happy-go lucky about the robbing.  rolleyes

I must, however, congratulate you on your success of thwarting the robbery. [=
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« Reply #36 on: September 09, 2013, 07:06:25 AM »

Have the dead been counted yet?  Has an actual inspection taken place?  How many frames of bees does this colony have now?  How much Honey after a week of robbing?

Those are all questions remaining and that haven't been answered by the 'only' one who knows.

Waiting.............................. grin  We've been on this road before.................... Wink
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