Are these robbers or my bees?

Can anyone help me figure if these are my hungry bees or robbers? They seem to be eating too fast to be possible with just mine?

Probably a lot of robbing. Its a common problem with entrance feeders. While they are easy to use they are a magnet fir every bee in the district.

Get a frame or top feeder and reduce your entrance to a couple of inches wide so the robbers have a hard time getting in as the local bees have already targeted your hive.


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OK. Thanks. I did add a reducer and made it so the front feeder was snug so the only way in was the reducer. After a while, the bees looked confused…many carrying pollen with full bags crawling on the front and not knowing how to get in. So I removed the reducer. Maybe I’ll put it back…

They will work out the entrance. Your reducer should be set up so the entrance is on the opposite side to the feeder.

One thing you could do is put more food in the jar, before placing it a few feet away from the entrance. Then let the robber bees clean it out (assuming they are robber bees). After the food runs out, the robber bees should stop coming, just like they do when flowers run out of nectar. Then try an internal feeder, as Rob suggested.

If your top brood box is full of honey, you shouldn’t need to feed, as long as you well insulate the hive.for winter. To my mind, the better insulated a hive is, the less honey they should use in order to survive the winter. Just make sure that mites are under control.

I do all the things Rob and Jeff mentioned plus hang a large damp towel over the front of the hive. Drape it so bees are able to exit & enter only one small side opening - this will temporarily hinder the returning home team but give the guards time to muster forces and defend themselves, plus the robbers are somewhat thrown off the scent because of the towel.

Entrance feeders should only be used in early spring, never during times of dearth for this reason :wink:

Good info! Thanks! I have ordered a top feeder. I have a local keeper with 100+ hives down the road. He uses entrance feeders all year long. Bad example.

OK. I bought a top feeder and the bees seemed to like it for a bit. I let it get mostly empty which allowed some bees to come out into it (between the top cover and the top feeder) and some drown, others started making comb. I cleaned it out and refilled it. That was fall when we ha da warm spell. Now it has been cold for three weeks, the bees are not eating as fast (at all???) and there is a lot of moisture building up over the top feeder, so the top cover is getting mold. Should I be top feeding sugar water in the winter? Should I dump it out and put in solid food? My bees had a few frames of honey but not sure it was enough. Not sure how much more they added in a few weeks with the top feeder. I am afraid to open it up and freeze them all. Any help?

No, the bees can’t use it because it has too much moisture and is too cold. Yes take it out, clean up and stick a winter patty or fondant, or even some slightly moistened dry white cane sugar in a piece of newspaper or paper towel onto the top bars under the inner cover.

It’s scary to expose them to the cold, and some might die as a result, but they’ll all die if you don’t feed them when they have inadequate food stores :wink:

Make sure you have closed down the entrance to one or two small holes, and insulate the sides and top, that will help them maintain their heat. Also be sure to place the core flute slider in the topmost position. You might also need a mouse guard if the entrance openings aren’t all the way down to one-bee-sized. Those bleeders can flatten & squeeze themselves into pretty tiny cracks and will wreck your hive.

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