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Competition for my bees?


Hi all,
I’m another newbie waiting on my flow hive to arrive (due in the next few weeks). In the process of learning I became interested in the top-bar hive, and now have hubby putting the finishing touches to one he whipped up in a fit of inspiration on the weekend. We have a couple of acres, loads of flowers (local natives mostly) and a couple of bee-friendly ponds.

The thing is, bees are all over the place already. We’re still having periods of very hot weather (41 C yesterday) and the ponds are absolutely buzzing with hundreds of bees - they’ve been coming here since the first run of really hot weather back in November. I suspect they belong to a handful of hives located approximately 2 km away. We’ve had the ponds here for years, but this year is the first time we’ve had the bees come to them in such huge numbers.

My question is, are these bees likely to pose any problem for our own bees when we get our hives set up?


No, not really. They will only be singularly concerned with gathering water for their own hive.


Hi Jaydub, I’m sure from what your saying that there’ll be enough pollen & nectar to go around.

I recently came to a conclusion that bees could cover an area in excess of 50 sq. km. When you look at it in that light, it makes you realize that you wont have to worry about the other bees being in competition with yours.


Thanks for your replies fellas, I was hoping someone would say that.

Jeff, there’s plenty of pollen and nectar to go around, the banksia prionotes are flowering all over the place at the moment, among other things. We get a lot of wind with the hot months, which made me wonder what might happen if these ones that are travelling a fair way back and forth to our pond found a nice little spot (our new hives) that was, well, easier.

If I was a bee, I’d just want to stick around. Would that make me a lazy bee…?


Hi & your welcome, no the bees will battle high wind & go straight past a closer hive to make it back to her own hive. Same as the bees in your hive, they’ll do the same thing. They’ll give their life to protect the brood (the next generation). Their whole reason to exist is for the next generation.


So if there are times when pollen and nectar supplies are low, and these other bees are still using my ponds, is there a chance they might decide to try robbing my hives?


Oh yes!!! & vice versa, they try to steal off each other. As long as you keep your hive strong in numbers, the bees from the other hive wont get in to steal the honey.


So having all these other bees already hanging about and making the most of my place kind of does mean my bees have competition, before I even get started. Hmmm, so Jeff, would you suggest I get a nuc, a package (both not local, they’d have to come from Perth, about 600 km away…) or try and contact the owner of these hives and try and talk him into splitting one? I think I just answered my own question…but maybe not?


Italians are renowned for it here in the UK


You should always take steps to prevent robbing. The simplest is never open the entrance wide open. I’ve found the bees do better if I never get much wider than about 2 1/2" or taller than about 3/8". (6cm x 1cm) Anytime you feed you are increasing the risk. Anytime there is a dearth there is an increased risk. Anytime a hive is weak or queenless there is an increased risk.



Then there is silent robbing.
I’ve experienced that in our association apiary.
It happens mainly in the evening with bees helping themselves to another hives stores unchallenged. There is often nectar coming in and the only time you notice it is with one colony getting unexpectedly lighter and another much heavier. You will notice if you are closely monitoring how the bees are flying in the evening but lots of people don’t have the time.


Hi & yes you did answer your own question.
You could be surprised to find even more hives in your area besides the ones you know about.

Don’t even think about competition for your bees, block that out of your mind. Honestly, from what you said, there will be enough for everyone.

I have a few hives at the side of my house. I used to think that the bees that came to clean up any residue honey after I finish extracting came from my own hives until I moved the last hive away before last Winter.

Guess what, there was just as many bees there to clean up as there was when I had my hives there. That kind of surprised me a bit.

If you consider bees will travel say, 4km to search for honey. Work it out, pye R squared = roughly 50 sq. km. I have no idea how far they will travel. The best answer I could find was, “as far as they have to”.

Good luck with everything, bye for now.


Robbing aside, it’s far more likely in this day and age that there are insufficient hives in the vicinity to use all the available resources.


Yes, a lot of that is being said here in the UK about urban hives but I don’t imagine it’s true. Just London chattering classes!
I read that bees are in trouble in parts of NZ where Manuka is over populated with colonies.


Thanks everyone for your input - sorry about the slow response.

I heard recently from visitors to NZ (south island) that there were hives “everywhere” @Dee. Not surprising considering the popularity and price people are paying for Manuka honey.

You’re probably spot on with your comment @Sara, from what I’ve learned there are less than 20 kept hives in the entire local area - we’re pretty isolated here. Wherever they go home to, the bees are having a time on our block right now, it’s cooled down so the pond is much less busy, now they’re either loading up with orange banksia pollen or drinking up nectar from flowering native shrubs and trees.

Thanks @Michael_Bush for the link to your website. I enjoy your no-nonsense writing style - I can see I am going to spend hours reading your words of wisdom, what a great resource. While we’re still waiting on the flow hive to arrive, we have a cut-out ready to go anytime we’re feeling confident to get some bees into the top bar. Nothing like jumping in at the deep end…