Robbing can be a serious issue in apiaries, which can be caused by bees or wasps.
How do you know if your honeybee hive is being robbed?
- A lot of bees hovering around checking all the cracks and in front of the hive entrance looking for a chance to get in.
- Many bees quickly entering and leaving the hive, looks like a strong flow when there isn't one.
- When approaching a hive the robber bees sway back and forth in front of the hive and fly with their legs extended behind.
- When coming out of the hive with a honey load they fly with hind legs bent forward, they do not fly as ordinary bees do because of the weight. When they take off they drop downward near the ground before rising. They some times climb up the front of the hive for take off since they are heavier they need to take off from higher up.
- Robber bees buzz loudly while in flight.
- The guard bees will be active defending the hive, you will see them lined up on the bottom board entrance and around vent holes.
- Fighting at the entrance. Dead bees in the front of the hive.
- Wax bits seen at the hive entrance. These wax bits look a lot different from ones you normally see they are larger and look ripped.
The best solution to robbing I have found is using robbing screens.
To make robbing screens I use 1 inch wood. Cut two side pieces and nail to a piece the size of the entrance of the hive then staple screen to the wood. The 1" side pieces hold the screen away from the hive body.The height is not real important, I have them all different heights the shortest probably being 4" tall. Only the bees who live in the hive will go up over the screen, even if you have a screen on every hive in the yard and they all know how to get over them. I like metal screen the best since the nylon screen can flop in towards the hive blocking part of the entrance.
Causes of and ways to prevent robbing:
- Do not open hives for a prolonged period
- Avoid working hives during a dearth
- If bees start to rob a hive when inspecting stop work immediately and
reduce the entrance to only one or two bee spaces and wait until another
- Do not expose frames of honey outside the hive.
- Putting sticky frames on hives after extracting for the bees to
clean up the remaining honey can cause robbing. Bees are very
attracted to the scent of honey.
- Having supers uncovered when the harvest is removed.
- Feeding essential oils may start robbing.
- Feed inside the hive and do not be careless when feeding (splashing syrup or honey on the outside of the hive or the ground).
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