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Protecting exiting bees from a hive from Hungry Butcher birds



I am the owner of a new hive and just got the bees on Sunday. I came back to the hive about 30 minutes after putting the hive into position and noticed a Butcher Bird sitting on a nearby branch (about 5 m from the hive). Every now and then the bird would swoop down and catch an exiting bees about 5-10m from the hive. I think the Butcher bird thinks it got the best Christmas present ever (free range food). The bird caught about 4 bees in 3 minutes before I scared it off…

Does anyone know of a way to scare off the butcher birds from the hive area?


Mow the lawn.

Butcher birds are opportunistic feeders and probably already know that lawn mowing provides a source of easy, damaged prey. Whenever I’m mowing, the resident butcher bird follows the mower and has a feast. However I’m on a few acres and my butcher bird always has alternative food sources. If you are in suburbia, you may not be so lucky. Your butcher birds endure a combination of sporadic food supply and smaller territories.

People put out pet food for dogs and cats and accidentally feed butcher birds as well. Populations increase and territory sizes decrease. Your butcher bird has found a reliable food source and Christmas is coming early. You need to make the new food source less reliable. Perhaps you could put your hive on a higher stand or face the entrance towards a dense shrub. My sensible suggestion is to find somewhere in your garden where the bees disperse more quickly as they exit the hive and where the butcher bird has a disrupted line of attack.


My mum used to put out kanga meat for the Kooka’s and the Butcher birds always came in to tidy up.

They can be very naughty!


Thanks, We have 2.5 acres, with about 1 acre being lawn, 1 acre garden beds / trees and the rest house, pool, shed, etc. Basically is a wildlife area.

I think I am worrying about nothing, I have had a few more inspections and haven’t seen the butcher bird near the hive again. We do seem to have a few potential bee predators near the hive with bearded dragons, magpies, noisy miners and butcher birds regularly in that area. The hive is raised about 35 cms so it should be safe from the dragons.

I may have to move the hive to a more open area so the birds have nowhere to perch while waiting for the bees. The hive is currently about 4 meters to the north of a garden bed (large shrubs) that I was hoping would shelter the hive from the southerly (and westerly winds). But it could easily be moved into the lawn area.

A couple of years ago I did try to feed the butcher birds with mealworms and kangaroo meat but they never seemed to go for it, however they do use the water bowl we put out for them for drinking and bathing.


Sounds like a beautiful place for a few bee colonies.


Over the last couple of weeks in particular we’ve had a family of Wattle birds, black birds & now noisy minors who’ve discovered the bees & also sit waiting in nearby branches collecting mouthfuls of bees. It’s so frustrating to watch. Another reason to foster good strong colonies of bees, as I’ve noticed the stronger the activity around the entrance the less inclined the birds are to get very close & less successful they are in catching them?


I actually am amazed by how well the birds go catching the bees in full flight as the bees leave the hive so quickly. The good news news is the I didn’t see the butcher bird near the hive yesterday afternoon.


Will bearded dragons eat bees? I’m getting my girls one for Christmas, they love snakes and reptiles.


First school I taught at was Oxley High in Tamworth. One of the other science teachers was mad on reptiles and he kept a cage full of bearded dragons and other critters. They lived on the occasional bit of cheap mince meat.

I fished a beautiful metre long green tree snake out of our pool yesterday. It was very keen to be on its way. Not the blue speckled variant unfortunately but a lovely creature none the less.


I think they will eat the bees that are on the ground after you do hive work. The bee club that I joined mentioned that a few Eastern Water Dragons come up and have a snack after we do the hive inspections on the field days. I am guessing that the bearded dragons will do the same.


Guessing we have hungry predators up here near Seattle too. When I get the girls I will have to watch. I know I have troubles with Hawks at times around my hens.


Picking up 4 hens on Friday. This is turning into a real urban farmstead esp once I get the aquaponics system installed


We have Butcher birds but I’ve never seen them eating bees, however the ones we have are the Pied Butcher Birds. Here’s my video of Pied Butcher birds singing, changing color & throwing up.

Also a Currawong with the young Butcher Bird song.

The Currawong at our back door.


Dragons love bees, an easy feed for them. I raised the hive to about 30cm which stopped the lizards from eating them off the landing board and now they sit in front of the hive and pick off the ones heavy with nectar is they miss and drop to the ground. Have already relocated 5 dragons this year and more just keep turning up. An easy fix is to run a low height chicken wire around the hive, because its transparent, the lizards don’t attempt to climb it and give up attempting to push through it.


Love my four hens ! Up here winters I have to keep a light burning to keep them productive n laying … Do the fruit tree n gardening stuff too … Now getting back into
beekeeping now. Building n assembling hives this winter n have Nuc’s of bees coming in April.


Thanks for the neat videos of singing birds. We have a few local songbirds n some noisy black crows n stellar blue jays.


Hi & your welcome Gerald, we have some crows called Australian Ravens. We often hear them in the distance.


Same here
I started with the four that I wanted but now have 11 and a cockerel. He is fab and really looks after his girls.
I don’t bother about extra light in winter, I reckon they need a break from laying and consequently live longer, I lost my last blue egg layer this week, she just keeled over. She was eight years old though.


Dee, sorry to hear about your green egg layer. My “Greylady” is my green egg layer. She’s about 3 plus years old now. My
New puller, “Baby” just came online mid November so I get one to two eggs during the winter enough for us until Vera starts baking :smiley:. We bounce up n down between 4 to 6 hens in our small coop n backyard run. The ladies (hens) entertain my wife Vera as they come up each day to our big glass sliding door for couple visits. Vera has muscular dystrophy so she does get out much any more n the winter blooming flowers n Ladies help make her day.

When I’m out back in my small woodshop on a wood project often the ladies will watch me thru the open door curiously. I’ve been making hive sections n assembling those this winter in anticipation of my Spring arrival of 3 Nuc’s of bee about mid April up here east of Seattle in the foothill country. It will be fantastic to work bees again after a 55 year absence. I raised bees as a school agriculture class project before 1965 or 1966. I forget then I was off to Vietnam n dad took over but lost all 8 to 10 hives to some major issue.

Thanks for your notes n reply. Happy holidays n Merry Christmas. Jerry


Maybe it’s me, but I would put the water bowl as far away from the bees as possible to encourage ANY animal using it to gather away from the hive. No use providing them with a beverage to wash the bees down their throat…