Sigh…

I think one of the hives is being robbed and I suspect it’s the new one I made last week. But it’s hard for me to tell who’s doing the robbing. I had noticed quite a bit of activity at the new hive, specifically I saw bees flying around the back/sides and bottom of the hive like they were looking for an opening. So today I watched it from behind and saw bees flying from the new hive to the old one. Uh oh. So I went around the front of the hive and watched a little. I picked a bee and watched what she did, some were exiting, orienting and flying off. Others however were flying right out of the new one and turning right to the old hive. But are they robbers returning to the old hive or taking off on a robbing flight? I had no idea and since the new hive (which was almost an even split off of the old hive) has plenty of bees and the honey I was hoping would be capped by those bees, I used the robber screen to block the entrance.

The bees were frantic, trying to get in and trying to get out.
The bees were frantic, trying to get in and trying to get out.

I went back a few hours later and something didn’t seem quite right, there weren’t as many bees hanging outside waiting to get in as there should have been. So I watched again and saw that the robber screen wasn’t as fitted to the hive as I thought it was and I could see bees disappearing into a crack and others coming out. So I donned my bee outfit and fixed it. Now they were really frantic.

Since I wasn’t sure who was robbing who, I put an extra reducer on the old hive to block the entrance. As I watched them for a few minutes, I could see bees with pollen hanging onto the landing board and waiting to get in.

The actual entrance is on the left but I blocked it.
The actual entrance is on the left but I blocked it.

I kept watching them and decided to do one more thing: close down both hives and look really quickly to see if any of the frames had jagged, ripped edges like this:

Shredded edges on the honey comb. If the bees are in their own hive, they would NOT be so careless. The edges would be much neater since they are taking their time. But when they're robbing, they are in a frenzy.
Shredded edges on the honey comb. If the bees are in their own hive, they would NOT be so careless. The edges would be much neater since they are taking their time. But when they’re robbing, they are in a frenzy.

I could only check a couple of frames but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. For the old hive, I closed the top entrance by flipping over the ventilated cover, I decided to re-open the front entrance to allow the foraging bees to return since the suspected robbers were now trapped behind the robbing screen on the new hive. Once it gets dark, I’ll close it up completely. I needed to do inspections tomorrow but now I’m not so sure.

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One comment

  1. Good idea to reduce the entrances. If you’re seeing bees trying to get in the back and sides of the new hive I think it’s safe to assume they’re from the old hive. Are bees trying to do this around the old hive too? Another sign is bees zig-zagging in front of the entrance and dark, shiny bees which have been in fights and had their hairs worn off. At least both hives belong to you, so either way you’ll be getting the honey!

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