View Full Version : All signs point to robbers...

Jun 29th 2010, 11:18 AM
so i think i've figured out why my bees are flying around like crazy...this is my first year so i think i made a big mistake and i'm hoping you guys can give me some advice on how to cure it

i have been using an entrance feeder since installing the hive on May 25. The bees eat the sugar water like crazy and i replace it once or twice a day

this morning, out in the back yard when i let the dog out, i noticed a HUGE amount of bees flying around like crazy, far away from the hive and just seeming to circle and go back...also, a large number near the entrance flying and buzzing erratically....first time i've seen this

well, the entrance feeder hasn't fit into the entrance for about 2 weeks due to comb being built down towards the bottom. i tried to shove it in there, but didn't want to damage the comb or upset the bees too much. so i have been leaving the feeder just in front of the hive, on the cinder blocks that it rests on. and from what i'm reading, it sounds like this flying and behavior indicates something is robbing the hive???

so my next questions---how do i TELL if the hive is being robbed, and what is your best advice for stopping what is taking place and returning the hive to a habitable place for my bees? undoubtedly the chaos that's going on in the backyard is going to piss off my neighbors and can only lead to trouble, but no way i would have approached the hive this morning as it was just pure chaos in the back.


Jun 29th 2010, 12:00 PM
best way to identify robbing is dead bees and fighting amongst the bees. I would take the feeder and move it 100 foot or so away from the hive. to keep the robbing bees away from the hive

Jun 29th 2010, 01:54 PM
Like rat said if it is robbing. It could be two other things, orientation flights or swarming, if you have been feeding since may and can't get your boardman feeder in the hive entrance because of the comb hanging down, i would guess they are crowded and they may have swarmed. Have you put supers on or checked for swarm cells? Jack

Jun 29th 2010, 02:17 PM
i added a second hive body 2 weeks ago because 8 frames of foundation were drawn out. i have inspected and i never noticed anything strange...i don't even know what to look for in terms of "swarm cells"...

i will try reducing the entrance and moving the feeder tonight, and see if that makes a difference..

Jun 29th 2010, 02:23 PM
The bees will not be aggressive toward you. You can, and should, remove the feeder NOW.

Also block the entrance off except for one inch or less, so the bees can protect it. Your hive may be dead by dark if it is robbing.

Jun 29th 2010, 05:40 PM
OK i am home...the feeder is empty, the bees have slowed down and look like they're back to their normal routine. there are some dead bees on the grass out in front of the hive, but they may have been there for a while...i've never looked!

still going to put the entrance reducer in and move the feeder...but since things seem back to normal, do you think i was overreacting?

Jun 29th 2010, 05:50 PM

Jun 29th 2010, 06:26 PM
I think as soon as you can I would do a little inspection to see if everything is ok in the hive. You can tell a lot of whats going on inside a hive by watching the bees.

Jun 30th 2010, 04:49 AM
i have been using an entrance feeder since installing the hive on May 25

if the installation was a package the timing might be about right for the first orientating flight. riverrat or jack should be able to give you some idea if local condition might or might not indicate robbing. as iddee suggest if you suspect robbing 'right now' is the appropriate time frame for doing anything.

given the quantity of feed you tell us you have been feeding I would concern myself with a honey cap (in this case sugar water) above the active brood nest.

and a small trick: if you know approximately at what level in the stack the brood nest is located... then in the majority of cases (but not exclusively) swarm cells are constructed along the bottom bars in this area. for me I quite often look for swarm cells simply by breaking apart the hive bodies and looking at the bottom bars while tilting back the hive bodies. in this way you can peak without pulling a lot of frames and disturbing the bees greatly.

Jun 30th 2010, 08:08 PM
I havent had much trouble with robbing so far this year. I concentrated on splits this year instead of honey production. From what I have seen we have had one of our better spring flows than we have had in awhile. The flow is just winding down. I was over in st louis a couple weeks ago I saw a lot of clover in full bloom

Jul 4th 2010, 08:22 AM
I experienced robbing only once before, and can say that there isd a vast difference in the sounds of a orientation flight group of bees and robbing bees, the contented hum from a active normally foraging colony, and one at war. . dead bees are the hallmark of robbing bees, but not alot though many are turned back and a few are sucessful in robbing, so long as the situation remains the same the stronger colony will continue to rob out the weaker colony. Again I have found that the sound of a disturbed colony will tell you whether or not they are being robbed or not and the actions of the robbers on the landing board as they approach the entrance--they will " look " guilty with arched abdomen, and taking tenative steps towards the entrance as if expecting to be greeted by a guard. if all you see are bees comming and going without hesitation, I would suggest that your ok, if not then follow the suggestions stated above.