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Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:33 am
One of my 4 hives is being robbed. I tried closing the upper entrances and using an entrance reducer at the smallest setting but this did not stop the influx of robbing bees. I finally closed up the hive altogether so no one goes in or out. Now after four days the robbing bees have not given up; still trying to get in. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of dead bees and wax cappings all over the ground. My questions: Can this hive be salvaged? I’m not sure what to do about the bees that are still trapped inside the hive. Should I let them live? Are they all robber bees inside or is some of the original colony still alive? And what about the queen? Is there a chance I still have a queen bee inside that hive or has she been killed by the robbers? I’m reluctant to tear the hive apart for an inspection because it will probably set off more robbing. Note: I’m still feeding the bees trapped inside with sugar water but should I just let them all die? Note: I don't have another location where I can move this hive.
Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:56 am
You do need to know what is going on inside your hive. I would wait until early evening to go into the hive and inspect. If trouble starts, there is less daylight time for mischief. I would not smoke the entrance to the hive, but would put a little smoke under the outer cover before going in. I would also want heavy smoke in the air and keep it heavy while inspecting. I don't know that it really helps, but it may keep the smell of honey and open comb covered to some degree and buy you a few more minutes before chaos gets started.
Robbing may be the result of a hive with queen problems or may just be a really strong hive taking advantage of a weaker hive. If you have a live queen and enough of her workers to salvage the hive, you may need to reduce it to fewer supers if it has several, or even put it in a nuc. In any case, I would get a robber screen and put it on the hive if there is a colony to be salvaged. My nucs that are strong enough to go into 10 frame hives have reducers on. Any that are less populous have nuc robber screens on. Most of my regular hives have reducers on now, and I keep a supply of robber screens on hand for those times where I trigger a frenzy among my bees and have to calm things down.
The number of dead bees and the wax shards are indicators of serious robbing, but I have seen situations like that where the queen and enough bees have survived to make the salvage effort worthwhile.
Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:35 am
About the only solution is to move them. If you have no other place to take them, bring them to my house. After a few days, you can return them home with a robber screen on and they should be OK if they have a queen now. If queenless, you may want to combine them with another hive.
If interested, my number is336-302-2708.
Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:17 pm
My 400 bee "swarm" from yesterday was being robbed despite my reducing the opening in the hive to just about 1 bee. I put a robber screen on and closed up the nuc. It has a jar feeder on the top (inner cover cut for jar feeder) so I am going to leave it closed up until at least tomorrow afternoon. If there is still a queen and if she is laying any eggs at all, I will boost the nuc with 2 frames of brood and nurse bees from a stronger hive. This, along with the robber screen, may give it the help it needs to fend of robbing attempts.
Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:45 pm
You would be amazed how small amount of chest rub (vicks) smeared above the entrance quickly stops any robbing situation (learned on beesource). I have been feeding sugar syrup my nucs in home yard without issues this summer. I smeared some chest rub around the entrance, every few weeks or so as it tends to melt away under intense heat.
Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:30 pm
I have used vap o rub before, not as a preventative, but to slow the chaos around a hive under attack. It helps quite a bit, but does not seem to stop an episode that has reached a high level of activity. I thought the entrance reduction & then closing up the hive would give it a chance, but I had acted too slowly. If I get a chance to try and rescue another of these "suicide swarms," I'll use the goo from the git-go and see what it does. I'll also have a robber screen on from the beginning.
Thanks frank for the info/reminder about another tool to limit robbing.