Recently observed native honey eaters (birds) gobbling up my bees enroute back to the hive. After gobbling up about 20-25 it flies off for the day.
Not birds but I do have a problem with water dragons sitting in front of the hives all day with their bottomless pit for a stomach. I’m ok with one but now there’s about 4 of them. Too fast to catch, I’m going to need to really think this out, could take a while.
Rod, what’s a water dragon ?
A big lizard which would eat heaps of bees
I have a Raven that eats the bees on the ground in front of the hive plus a butcher bird that catches them in the air!!!
All part of the mixture of life, arn’t we just the luckiest ones.
Butcher Birds and Magpies visit my apiary every afternoon, the Butcher Birds catch them while they are flying, the Magpies wait till they have landed at the entrance of the hives. Stopping them would be mission impossible.
Hiya itchy, when you think the queen can lay over 2000 eggs a day this time of year a few bees here and there ain’t even scratching the surface.
I’d still take the birds over varroa and shb.
I lost a package to a water dragon last week. I placed the new package near a creek and I came out to check it the next morning and a water dragon was sitting in front of the entrance reducer helping himself to breakfast as my bees came out to have a look around.
I ended up putting a physical barrier up to stop it as well as putting the hive on a stand. Also let the dogs out once or twice to scare it off.
I once had a water dragon jumping up catching bees that was on a stand but managed to deter it by chasing off a few times.
They like to have cover so I’d either move the hive away from their dwelling area or reduce the amount of cover if possible. Four is a lot though.
WOW, awesome responce to my query. Loved the bit with the water dragon, cool critter. I don’t mind sacrificing a few bees to the natural wild life, however if it were to become excessive, I’d have a different take on it. Having birds clean up bees on the ground, is IMHO a bonus, I’d rather the birds clean up than pesky Ants. There’s always bees on the ground at my hives, apparently they have exceeded their use by date and are kicked out of the hive, as no retirement scheme is available for them. Without the workers feeding these bees, there’s a bleak future awaiting them, having the birds clean them up is a win, win situation I reckon.
I have a couple of ruffed grouse in the beeyard every morning, just cleaning up the dead ones from what I can see.
In the heat of our summer though; I noticed some aerial battles going on with a crop of huge dragonflies right above the hives. I never actually saw one get a bee, but there were probably fifty or more 3 to 4" dragonflies directly above the hives darting like crazy after something. Has anyone else ever noticed this, or witnessed a dragonfly win a battle with a honeybee?
When they are nesting, sparrows eat the dead ones around our hive. If we have crawlers from Varroa related disease, then the Western Fence Lizards get very fat on them. The lizards don’t go for the hive though, just the slow ones on the ground.
Dragonflies are bee eaters, since getting bees I have noticed the df population increase, but maybe I just didn’t notice them pre bee. I often see them take a bee out for dinner but once again it’s not a big problem for the colony as a whole.
Rod, how would a small fence of chicken wire about 10" high and securely anchored in the ground do ?? I had a similar issue with lizards taking bites out of my tomatoes near the ground. Fenced it off like above, prob solved. Felt awful though, depriving lizard of fresh tomatoes.
WOW ! I’ve been wondering whether I am the only beekeeper that has this issue. I’m in Australia, Perth, Western Australia to be exact, and have observed one of these birds stealing my bees as they come back from doing their daily chores fully loaded with pollen. The cheeky bugger simply sat near the hive entrance and snatched them as soon as they landed. After gobbling up 30 or so bees, he’d fly off and I wouldn’t see him again until the next day. Very clever bird too, he wouldn’t come around until the afternoon, typicaly around 2 PM or thereafter, when the bees were coming home. At first I didn’t worry too much about it, after all 30 bees a day is not that many. BUT, come spring, all of a sudden I find no less than THREE birds now raiding my hives. The original bird decided to teach his mate and their offspring how to get an easy meal. Now I had 3 X 30 bees disapearing daily. NOT GOOD, something had to be done about it. First I tried the replica Owl figure with a moveable head, which was supposed to move with the breeze. FAIL ! The head would not move as claimed, and the figure didn’t do anything to scare the birds. Then a replica Magpie, all that did was prevent the birds from sitting near the hives, instead, they sat on the fence and picked off the bees there. Now came the cheapest option, a roll of bird tape. This tap is supposed to give off a noise if there’s breeze or wind blowing, to scare off the birds. I strung this up in a criss cross fashon making large squares approximately 2-3 ft square in front of the hives. The male bird thought he’d show the rest of the family how to beat it, flew straight thru one of the squares, caught his bee and tried to get out. OOPS, not so easy, he got caught up in the tape, panic ensued and he went into a right old flap. SUCCESS at last. Now they sit in the trees and wait for the return of the bees in the afternoons and try to catch them mid flight, sometimes they’re successful, sometimes not. But I have noticed, there’s quiet a reduction of these birds now near the hives, so it appears when they have to work hard for their meals, they loose interest and seek easier options elsewhere. The tape is a simple blue in colour plastic tape sourced from our local Hardware Bunnings store. Though I guess any tape at least a 1/4 " wide and strong enough to stretch tightly, should suffice. Good luck if your goung to try it, and let us know of your success.
Birds are not really an issue. Bears, maybe.
I’m assuming it is Australian Magpies that you are referring to. I have a mob of them on my property and they do sometimes snatch a few, but not going to dent the population of a strong hive.
Those gizmos from Bunnings are all gimmicks, they do not work. Magpies are amongst the most intelligent birds and you are not going to fool them with a plastic owl. The tape is not going to scare them for long either unless it is physically blocking the bees. They will work it out if they really want to get the bees. More than likely though they will just get sick of the taste of bees and move on to something else. They like a varied diet.
No, they’re not Magpies, but Honey eaters, usually they get their tucker from nectar in the flowers of plants, but swiping my bees seems to be an easier job. The tape is working well, especially after one of them thought he was clever and could fly thru it, coming out he got tangled up in the tape and totally lost it, eventually he freed himself, but has avoided the tape ever since. Now he swipes them on the fly, much harder work and after a few he gives up. One bird is not a problem but when there’s FOUR of them, it gets out of hand.
In Queensland, watch out for the cane toads. Can’t have the hives on the ground.
I’m in the Northern Rivers and apart from floods, I’ve had Honeyeaters (let the plants grow higher which seemed to discourage them) Cane Toads (@JeffH gave me the tip of a led torch and a grabber which worked treat, and the toads ended up in the compost ) Water Dragons (taught the terrier to scare them away, by the time he reaches the hive usually they have scarpered) and of course Small Hive Beetles (Mineral oil in debris tray, and a beetle buster hanging on the brood frame) all trying to take out the ladies. Keep calm and carry on
For me here in PA, US it’s a persistent catbird that likes to sit in the apple trees my hives are just behind. It spends hours every day in mid-spring swooping out to snatch bees in flight. It moves on eventually - guess everyone gets tired of their new favorite snack at some point!
My cousin sent me this by the way -