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Author Topic: Help, I'm being robbed  (Read 2104 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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GSF
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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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Michael Bush
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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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sc-bee
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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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John 3:16
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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T Beek
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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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