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Post by chemicalmaker »

It appeared my hives were being robbed from neighboring bees. I reduced the entrance to the smallest opening. My hives were very strong or so I thought. My question is should my bees be able to fend off robbing now that I lowered the entrance? The weather is nice so the bees are very active. It is hard to tell if the all activity I see is my bees trying to get through the small opening or if I am still getting robbed. Any advice is much appreciated. Also if there is anything else I can do besides lowering the entrance please let me know.

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Re: Robbing

Post by Jacobs »

I think Langstroth noted that colonies with good queens will defend hives, but queenless hives are less prone to defend. I have wondered if the same is true for hives with failing queens. Can probing bees evaluate queen status as they try and enter a target hive or is it the lack of will on the part of home bees when they do not have a strong queen? When I see a hive being strongly probed or being robbed and I have not triggered it by having the hive open for an extended period of time when there is a nectar dearth, I suspect queen issues.

Whatever the cause, I want to get the probing/robbing stopped. I keep robber screens available and will put one on a hive if things are really bad. I can shut the bees in for a few minutes, then open one of the bottom entrances for a brief period long enough to let some robbers out, but not let more in. I will repeat this a few times, and then close all entrances until dusk. At that point, I will open only the top entrance of the robber screen. It will take the house bees a little while to figure out the new entrance, but I have rarely seen robbers figure it out. If I don't have a robber screen immediately available, or if things have not gotten badly out of hand, an entrance reducer on the small setting further reduced with small rocks to about a 1 bee at a time entrance will usually do the trick. When I get things under control and let things calm down for a day or so, I do want to know if there is a queen issue and I will examine the hive closer to dusk so that if probing/robbing gets started, there is not much time before dark sets in.

I am careful working hives now. I think they are in a feed up for winter mode with a limited fall flow going on. It is easy to trigger robbing when my bees show as much interest in potential resources as they do now.
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Re: Robbing

Post by Wally »

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