Hi I’m having bees robbing my hive. The entrance is 11cm wide. Is there anything I can do to help the bees defend?
Have you tried reducing the entrance down further? 5 cm? There’s some threads with suggested methods.
What is the background of your colony? Is it a small nuc? Establishing hive? One of many in an apiary?
Thanks. Colony is still building up the numbers.
I will reduce it further then. I’ll shove some more wood in there.
Hello and welcome to the Flow forum!
You can make or buy a robbing screen. That is what I find most useful when robbing starts. Put it on the hive quickly, because a hive can be robbed out within a few days if it is not very strong.
If you use the Search tool at the upper right of the forum screen, you will find lots of discussion of what to do about robbing.
Thanks so much Dawn. I have to look that up because I never heard of robbing screens.
I have to do it quickly because I’m noticing depleted stores. I also got stung for the first time by this hive today and they looked very agitated.
Apologies, I should have searched before I posted.
Ok I looked it up. Very simple to make a robbing screen but can’t do it before the weekend and that might be too late.
I will reduce the entrance as a mater of urgency tomorrow. Once I make a robbing screen, is there any benefit in leaving it there permanently?
No need for apologies. Many people don’t know about the search function.
You can leave the screen on longer term for weak hives, but strong hives tend to beard in hot weather, and the screen can be a nuisance when they do that. Also, if there is a heavy nectar flow, the small entrance on most screens is a hindrance to foragers.
I now reduced the entrance to 5cm (it was 11cm). As soon as I did that there was a melee in front of the entrance. Couldn’t tell the goodies from baddies. Is this normal? What are my chances of saving the hive?
I also have a second hive of similar age and strength and reduced the entrance from full to 5cm. They didn’t argue at all but wasn’t noticing robbing either.
That is probably a good sign. Hives with no robbing don’t do that. When bees are “wrestling” in the air and there are dead bees on the ground in front of the hive, it means that the hive is fighting back and throwing out the robbers.
Only time will tell. If you keep seeing the “melee”, it means that you have home guards. That is a good thing. You may need to feed the hive once this has settled, but be aware that feeding can start robbing, so deal with the robbing first.
Thank you very much Dawn.
I was feeding syrup on and off because it’s a new colony. They were consuming 1.5l in about a day. I have 5-6 frames of bees and thought that was a lot of consumption. I never fed my previous hives so not familiar with the volume they need.
I made the mistake of mixing 1kg sugar with 1 litre of water and I think that is too dilute.
Not a mistake. That is a perfect syrup in hot weather. The only mistake is in trusting bees to be altruistic. They aren’t, and will rob each other into starvation if they can get away with it.
hopefully it’s not your second hive doing the robbing…
Welcome to the forum. Great to have another west aussie amongst us.
There’s a Perth/ greater Perth specific thread here:
and also a Perth hills thread:
Enjoy your stay.
I actually hope that if I’m being robbed, it is my other colony not someone elses’ Haha!
There are others around me here with backyard hives.
If you’re going to deal with robbing, best to keep in in the family, eh? Had a similar frenzy start last summer & feel pretty sure it was my one colony robbing from the other - anyway I hope it’s all under control now in your apiary! And welcome, by the way
Now that you put it that way, I’m having second thoughts Eva haha!!
I was thinking, something I don’t do often, when reducing the entrance is it best to use a mesh of sorts just to keep the ventilation going? I ended up using black irrigation pipe off cuts, and they work beautifully in the sloping Flow entrance. I’m not sure whether a 5cm entrance will hinder their temperature control.
5 cm might be a bit tight for air flow if you get really hot weather. I’m on the Sunshine Coast in Qld and I have found from 10/12 cms works for me in a sub tropical climate. I haven’t had any robbing issues since I closed the entrances down to that. But I also spend a lot of time to keeps hive strengths about the same.
Re your feeding when I need to feed my hives they also go thru 1 to 1.5 liters of syrup a day and if it gets down under 500ml I stop feeding and figure there is nectar in the flowers, in the Australian bush that isn’t always the case so it is worth keeping an eye on the amount of uncapped cells as an indicator of nectar available if your relying on natural bush flora.
I have to disagree Peter, due to the fact that @Zzz reckons his colony is “still building up in numbers”. I’d be happy for my bees to have a 5cm entrance under those circumstances. That’s all a lot of my building up colonies have.
@Zzz, have you thought about using rolled up cardboard as an entrance reducer? With something like that, the bees can chew it out if they want to. I use latex sponge from a mattress that lost it’s memory as an entrance reducer. If the bees want to open it up, they can.
Jeff is correct. I think 10cm entrance is ideal for a strong established hive. The advice above for a 5cm entry, which I think is sound is for a small colony still building up, like my case.
When they go through that amount of syrup, do they use it all to feed and rear brood, or store and cap it too?
[ I earned a badge for editing a post. Really? So do I redeem these badges with hive equipment when I collect enough? Haha ]
Genius! No I haven’t. I do like to give them the freedom to open up if they want to. But I have to ask: do they also have the capacity to close the entrance back to a smaller size if they need it tighter?
No st-ng, I haven’t seen the bees close an entrance up, however during winter I’ve seen lots of propolis barriers across the bottoms of frames that I reckon the bees put there to keep the cold out.
Therefore I guess bees would soon use propolis to reduce an entrance if they chose to.
PS St-ng, I read where you asked “what are my chances of saving the hive?” There is one thing you can do to save the colony. You can move the hive away if you have somewhere to move it to.