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Identify this bee ----please!


Hello everyone!

I was doing a last “quickie” hive inspection this afternoon and found a lot of these bees in one hive. I watched my italian bees approach these strange looking creatures and do their touchy, feely thingy. My bees stayed very calm and accepted these strangers among them. I am assuming they have the correct pheromone to be so accepted but what in the world are they? Friendly or cleaver invaders or a freak of nature?

Unfortunately I didn’t see the queen as it was a cool day with rain coming in.

Bottom line— should I be concerned?



The first photo looks like a drone who has been “disciplined” by the hive. That is to say, they have stripped off his hairs which give color to his abdomen. The second one is probably another drone, from the eye size.

I think you are seeing the entirely natural throwing out of non-productive male bees in Fall. Upsetting, but normal. Don’t be concerned, they will make more next year. :blush:

One other thing though, there are a lot of hexagonal wax cappings in your photo. Could there be robbing going on in your hive? If so, you may need a robbing screen- pronto. :thinking:

Actually on reviewing everything, I am more worried about robbing. The bald bees may the result of robbing. :cry:


Actually this picture was taken about six weeks ago when I was cleaning up some frames and I saw these strange looking BLACK bees on the wax. At the time I thought they were either feral or perhaps some new beekeeper had moved in near me. These do not look anything like the Italian drones although these pictures may be a drone of some type. I have never noticed any such black bee in any of my Italian colonies…until now, ergo my cause for panic :slight_smile: There were a lot of these in just the one hive (none in the other four colonies). :thinking: Strange.

I actually showed the pictures to the group at the bee club meeting this week and no one seemed to know what they were other than “maybe caucasian”.

There isn’t much I can do at this point. The hive seems to have accepted them and I suppose that is the end of it.

Just needed a calming voice. Thanks Dawn, you’re the best!


I would check on their food stores. If they have been robbed, they may be short for winter. OK, I am paranoid, but that is what I would do. :blush:

Meanwhile, I am very grateful for your gracious comments. :heart_eyes:


If the hive has accepted them from another hive, as colonies do when there is lots of foraging available, then you have nothing to worry about. I could be they are from the hive and a ‘throw back’ in their coloring.
Either way they are accepted into the hive so you have nothing to worry about.


@Dawn_SD and @Peter48
Well, I dug into the “alien” bee hive this morning and yes Dawn, they have been completely robbed out :sob: I suppose this is what can happen when you don’t see the bee yard on a daily basis-- it’s in a back field.

They had only a small amount of sugar water left in a few frames. It is too late in the season for them to take syrup so I made up some fondant and threw on a lump of sugar cake with some pollen sub in it. Reduced the hive down to two boxes (from 4 :disappointed:) but still see a lot of black bees present. Because of this I am reluctant to put on some frames of honey I have set back in the freezer. There is no fighting . Is there anything else I can do?

How do I manage them throughout the winter? I would feel absolutely terrible if they starved.



It sounds like you have done the right thing by shrinking the hive down and feeding. I would see how fast they take the fondant, and give them more if needed. The black bees are probably not robbers, but they were defenders who got stripped of their hairs. They may stay in the hive all winter now, as winter bees live a lot longer than spring and summer bees.

I would still consider putting a robbing screen on the hive. Brushy Mountain has one that I quite like. Robbing is unusual as the weather gets colder and foraging is minimal, but on a warm day, they may become a target again. With a robbing screen in place, you could then give them those frozen frames of honey (after defrosting, of course!) :blush:

If the hive is very weak, I would consider dispatching the queen and merging the bees with another hive. Not ideal at this time in the season, but they would have a chance of surviving.


@Dawn_SD, I can put a robbing screen on, no problem there. But at this time of year I usually put on entrance reducers whose opening is small enough to prevent mice intrusion and only allows a 3" entrance. Is that an acceptable substitute? My robber screens will not keep mice out.
I can’t imagine they will get robbed again-----there is nothing there to take!

Thank you so much for the advice


It should be, if there are enough bees left in the hive to defend an entrance of that size. Thank you for the feedback and for being so diligent. It is a real pleasure helping people when they are as responsive as you have been. :blush:


How would this do as an anti robbing device and as a hive reducer all in one.

It is also reversible by turning it upside down if you need to move your bees or to lock them in for some reason while it still gives ventilation.
I have experimented using unbleached white flour and found the bees treat it the same way they do with pollen and store it, it is a much cheaper way to feed your bees than commercial products. I placed a cup of flour on a sheet of paper across the top frames of supers and it was all removed in 3 weeks and seen in the cells although there was also pollen being foraged over that period.
It sounds like you are doing things right and hope my advice along with Dawn’s has helped.


@Peter48 Oh yes Peter! What a lovely set up. At this point I refuse to buy another bee gadget for a while and just use what I have. I am slowly converting my lang boxes to long hives because lifting is becoming a problem for me. I am very happy with the performance of the LH I built and stocked this past April. The bees seem very content and even during the dearth didn’t get fussy. LH #2 will be my winter project-----maybe #2 & 3 :grin:

Advice is always welcome. It’s very good to hear that about the flour. I had heard that from another source but didn’t try it because it wasn’t confirmed by more than that single source. It takes a long time to weed out what actually works and what doesn’t :slight_smile:

Many thanks!