Robbing or Something Else?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Dbure, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    I have a hive that I am trying to save. It started off as a very strong one and when I began having SHB issues about a month ago I saw that the population was suddenly very low and appeared to be queenless. I was forced to decrease it's size to help allow for less space that the bees would need to patrol and it is now down to one deep brood box with a screened bottom board with a tray filled with oil. Believing that it had lost it's queen (not able to find her) I removed the frames that looked spoiled and replaced them with a frame of honey, two frames that were partially filled with brood, and a few undrawn foundations in hopes they would raise another queen. They have been limping along, appeared to be building a little comb, but always seemed to be there at dusk guarding their entrance. Then yesterday when straining the oil from the trap I saw quite a few dead SHB larvae in the oil but very few if any adults.

    This evening I noticed that the front of the box now appears to be covered with bees and some are lined up down the side around the edge where the bottom board meets the box. The temp here is 89 with a humidity of 23%. My hubsand wondered if these bees are robber bees and I wondered if they may all be new ones indicating that the population has grown. Wouldn't robber bees go home at night, or would they stay at a different hive? In the morning I plan on going out there to see what is happening inside. It may be a lost cause to try and save it so late in the year, but it made me question where robber bees go at night. Does anyone know?:confused:
     
  2. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    robber bees do the same as any field worker bee as it gets dark, head home, sounds to me like the hive is just getting bigger:thumbsup:
     

  3. jim314

    jim314 New Member

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    Sounds the same to me. Looks like you dodged the dead queen bullet :)
     
  4. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    I sure hope they are getting bigger Zookeep. The SHB problem seemed to explode this summer and the bottom traps are doing a good job at catching them now. The larvae showing up concerned me that maybe the damage was just to much for the bees to overcome and that robbing had started. It's very sad to see them trying to survive so much trouble. :sad:
     
  5. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    How big were the shb larvae?
     
  6. kebee

    kebee Active Member

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    I would go ahead and put a robber screen up just in case and to stop any robbing that might come up.

    kebee
     
  7. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Hi Gypsi and Kebee. The larvae looked to be about half the size of a grain of rice. This morning I went back out there and looked to see what was going on and there was a frenzy of bees all around the box. I pulled the trap out of the bottom and bees had found their way in through a crevice at the back and had gotten into the oil. In addition to them there were more dead larvae. There were maybe about 100 bees that had died trying to get in.:sad:

    There was a loud buzzing coming from the box and when I opened it I could see the robbing taking place. I removed the oil tray to keep it from killing more bees but had nothing to block up the back of the hive to keep them out. Right now I am at work and can't make it home for a few hours to see if anything can be done. I had wanted to see what the frames looked like but was running late. I am afraid what little bees I had left may have abandoned the box. If they have done this what should be done? Should I allow the bees to go ahead and clean it all out?
     
  8. Noronajo

    Noronajo New Member

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    When I lost 2 hives to robbing last month, one was completely cleaned out but we put a robber screen (took too long) on and while too many bees were killed defending their hive, most of their honey was saved. I put it in the freezer for a few days and used some of the frames in a split I'm giving to a guy that I'm teaching about beekeeping. The rest will be given to any hives that seem light on stores for winter-if we have one this year!
     
  9. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Thank you Noronajo. That would be great if I can salvage some of the honey. There was not but one frame I that we had transferred over from another hive when trying to save this one. I am headed home to see what is happening and if it isn't too far gone may be able to do that. Last night at dusk it looked like bees had settled on the box and I was not sure if it was robbers or not. They may have been the existing hive which has been unsuccessful at defending what little they have. I am learning alot from this whole episode. Some things I could have done to prevent this I know, but then hey, if we don't make mistakes then we are not humans. We would be bees.:grin:
     
  10. Noronajo

    Noronajo New Member

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    That's how I consoled myself this summer - another lessons learned. The saddest part was finding my little golden queen curled up in the bottom of the hive. I never found the queen in the one I saved the honey from but I know one thing-I will never mistake robbing for orientation flights. I had read about robbing but never seen it and now have robbing screens I made from woodscraps for each hive.
     
  11. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Well, I've been out there and opened the hive. It seems that the robbing has almost cleaned out the remaining honey. You can see where the comb has been chewed and is being emptied. There was no brood, and one frame looked a little slimed from the SHB larvae. I put the roof back on and let it be for now. There was a wax moth on the inner cover and I figure that after the bees clean out what they want I will need to get the frames out and the box aired to keep moths from moving in and making a mess.

    I too wondered Noronajo if these bees had hatched from the brood frames we gave them and were orienting themselves. I thought it odd that many of them stayed on the box overnight, and I assume that they may be what is left of the original colony and do not know anyplace else to go. They never raised another queen and actually would not have had enough time to. After there is nothing left what should I do about the remaining bees? Will they take up with another hive if the box is removed? Can anything productive be done with them?
     
  12. Noronajo

    Noronajo New Member

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    I shook mine in front of my remaining home hive-if there had been more than a few I would have done a newspaper combine. I figured it was getting late in the season and taking frames of brood from the strong hive would only make it more susceptible to robbing. I've had to put a wet sheet on it twice since then and that's with the robbing screen.
     
  13. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    shake them out infront of your remaining hives and store the boxes for next year, they will join the other colonies. sad to hear about your learning experience.
     
  14. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry for your loss. On the bright side, you do have remaining hives. I started with one in 2011. Oooops. Hasn't been a wide open entrance at my place all season. Traffic jams are fine compared to my 2011.

    And I haven't fed a single drop of Honey Be Healthy either. It draws robbers from MILES away.
     
  15. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    dbure:
    "It seems that the robbing has almost cleaned out the remaining honey. You can see where the comb has been chewed and is being emptied. There was no brood, and one frame looked a little slimed from the SHB larvae. I put the roof back on and let it be for now. There was a wax moth on the inner cover and I figure that after the bees clean out what they want I will need to get the frames out and the box aired to keep moths from moving in and making a mess." and "After there is nothing left what should I do about the remaining bees? Will they take up with another hive if the box is removed? Can anything productive be done with them?"

    dbure,
    robber bees will clean out a weaker hive, and you are seeing the results, ragged chewed comb, bits of wax on the landing board and on the bottom board. this is very disheartening to see when we don't understand why it happened, and i can't tell you why from a distance. my concern for you is your mention of shb larvae slime on a frame and and a wax moth on the inner cover. i do not have experience with shb, but do have experience with the wax moths. i would not leave the hive be for now, and i would not wait to let the robber bees 'clean out what they want', you will have great frame damage from either of these pests. i would immediately shake the remaining bees out as zookeep suggested, about 10 to 20 feet out in front of the remaining hives. once doing so, i would freeze any frames from this hive from 24 to 48 hours to kill any wax moth eggs/larvae, to prevent any wax moth damage to your frames. left unchecked, this is a mess, will destroy your frames, and you will not be able to use these frames again.
     
  16. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a debure snip...
    Some things I could have done to prevent this I know, but then hey, if we don't make mistakes then we are not humans. We would be bees.

    tecumseh:
    and some folks would very much like people to be that way.... that is dangle some handy pheromone under your nose and know that you cannot do anything besides what they want. I guess in some ways any advanced economic system is pretty much like that.

    I will say I am quick to come to anyone defense when it comes to learning via their mistakes. on occasions I have been accused of being a know it all when it comes to bees but actually I have just had much more time to make many more mistakes than some beekeepers. I myself do try to not repeat mistakes too often.

    as to your hives (now deceased) I would guess the primary cause of it's demise was either a weak queen or lack of resources coming in the front door. these two things of course can work hand in hand or counter to each other. that is.... even if a queen is very robust if they are placed in a situation where inadequate resources are coming in a very robustly laying queen can brood to the point where the unit dies from lack of adequate resources.

    save all the comb you can and then repopulating the hive should be fairly fast and easy come spring time.
     
  17. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Grocery stores have "shake & bake".

    Beeks have "shake & freeze".

    Do as Riverbee says, and do it soon.
     
  18. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Definitely shake & freeze. Good one Iddee!
     
  19. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Thank you Riverbee, Tecumseh, Iddee, Gypsi, and everyone for all the advice. It is suppose to rain here this afternoon, but if it will hold off I will get them handled when I get home and get the frames into the freezer. I lost 3 of my hives this year to SHB before I could figure out how to get them under control. The screened bottom boards have helped in a huge way and have allowed my other hives to survive the invasion. I wish I had known about them earlier on. Everytime I have gone out to strain the oil you can see where the beetles are bunched in the front where they are coming in through the front opening and falling down into the tray. How they get past the guard bees is confusing as the front entrances are always crowded with bees. My other hives are strong, but I don't see how any hive can be productive when a large percentage of bees are having to chase and jail beetles on the inside. One of those hives I have reduced to 2 deep brood boxes and removed the super because it did not have enough bees in it. I am going by the 80% rule where I am told that if the bees are not covering at least 80% of the frames in the box to remove it. When I did I found beetles in that one going unchecked. The brood boxes look good and pretty full.

    Also, Tecumseh, I have never thought of you as a know it all. Your experiences are very helpful and I have learned much from you and others who have more of that than I do. Each area of the country is not always the same, but given time everyone ends up going through something that others have already been through. That is how it seems with the SHB problems. Those who have dealt with troubles like this before have had more time to figure out methods and such of dealing with it. It is that way with any experience that others gain which can be passed on.:thumbsup: