Robber bees, lazy queen, stuck with next steps? I’m really stuck?

Hi all, I got my flow hive in Sept 2022.
Installed a Nuc in mid October
My hive looked healthy and all frames had been drawn and I had good brood and honey stocks in the brood box, I added the super in late November.
Around a month later there was lots of activity around my hive, it took me a month to realise something was happening, eventually I figured out it was robber bees, after research I reduced the entrance, used wet towels and then added a robber screen which I made. This seemed to slow the robbers up. Yesterday I noticed a lot of wax chips of the front landing inside the robber screen. I think the robbers found the new entrance.
Today I made a new screen with an entrance in a different spot, I thought I might alternate the screens to confuse the robbers.
While I was doing this I inspected the hive. In the super I have about 4 flow frames that are 3/4 to half ful of honey.

In the brood box I have some brood but a lot less than before I put the super on and also not a lot of honey downstairs.
I sighted my queen, I saw larvae, didn’t see eggs as I was rushing.
There are lots of my bees entering the hive with pollen, forage is excellent.
Given my brood box is barely keep in up I was wondering if I should just harvest the honey up top, remove the super and then put everyone to work in the brood box. This will either help overcome the robbers or it will fail and I just start again next spring.

For the last month I reckon my hive is just holding its own against the robbers

If I shut my hive up for a few days would the survive on the honey stocks in the super? Is this the next step in defeating the robbers?

I’m really stuck


My preferred way to stop robbers is to move the hive to a new location. If that is not an option then reduce the entrance dramatically even down to 1” to give the guards a better chance at defending. Keep using the robber screens though, they never hurt.

I am much further north than you but your queen could just be backing off laying because its autumn. Someone else in your area would have a much better idea than me.

As for the super, if the bottom box is not full of brood and stores I would be removing the super. Let them handle the robbers and build up for winter. If they fill the brood box it may be worth just putting an ideal on for extra winter stores, without a QE. I rarely get much honey out of a first year hive unless its an exceptional year.



Thanks Rob
Reducing entrances was done first.
When you talk about moving the hive how far are we talking. I could move it 50 or 60 meters. Is that enough?
When is the best time to move it? Close it up at night? Move it and then open it up again?

I think harvesting what honey I have and letting them concentrate on the brood box and hive strength makes sense.

Thanks for your suggestions


When I say move it I mean MOVE it. At least 3km or they will just fly back to the old spot.

Looks like you are stuck with the measures you have already taken.

Thanks Rob I was just contemplating the value of moving it 80 meters.
I’ll harvest the honey, remove the super and see if that strengthens the hive.

I’ll keep swapping screens and try and confuse the robbers.

Hi Peter, not speaking from experience, however thinking outside the square. If you have a couple of hours free one morning, I’m wondering how you would go closing the hive up before first light. Then sit at the hive with a vacuum cleaner to suck up the robber bees as they start to arrive, continuing that until they stop coming.

My reason being that no robber bees will return to their hive/s, which will put an end to bees communicating the position of your hive’s entrance.

You can learn more about bees communicating in the video on Youtube “City of Bees”

Another interesting video to watch is “Hornets from Hell”. The Japanese Honeybees have the same strategy of not letting scout Giant Japanese hornets return to their nest, otherwise the Giant hornet will return with an army of Giant hornets, which will kill the whole colony, so they can rob the hive of it’s brood, to feed to their brood.

Hi Jeff
Something about this idea tickles my fancy as I’m not feeling a lot of love for the robbers. It might be a good way to see how many are turning up at the very least. I’ll shut the hive up before sunup tomorrow and then have a coffee by the hive and see how many of the robbers turn up.
Thanks for the input.

You’re welcome Peter, you’ll have to get up before first light, because from past experience, I’ve seen bees in my dragonfruit flowers while it is still half dark.

Hi Quigs,
Just my 2 cents worth, when you harvest the honey, save plenty for the bees with a view to feeding back to them until/unless you’re satisfied they’ve got enough stores for winter. You’ve done well to get so much honey so quickly. Over here on the other side of the bay, it’s been a very poor season. I also noticed a bit of robbing starting here yesterday. It also might pay to look up info on moving hives, so you can judge when or whether to move your hive one metre or 5,000 ( there’s no real in-between).
Cheers and all the best - what a great start!

Hi Jeff I closed up my hive in the night and then watched it carefully in the morning. There were no bees on the outside of my robber bee screen until about 10 am. It seemed the robbers turned up from then. By 1:00 pm there were only 10 bees gathering outside the screen. I got my shop vac and sucked them up.
When I opened the hive things went back to normal quickly and I’m still seeing some possible robber activity.
Thanks for the idea.

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State of my bee nation update.

I have some questions

Opened the super today.
I have two basically full flow frames both sides of capped honey
I have two frames that each have one side full and a reasonable start of honey on the other side, there were a few cells uncapped, less than 10 per side.
The other two frames, outside ones were empty .

First question if I harvest my honey does it matter if there are a few uncapped? I’m talking less than 10 per side of each the active frames.

Opened my brood box

One of my outside frames is totally empty, the comb was drawn before I put the super on but no further action. The other outside frame has 1/4 of honey and a little brood.

One side of one frame is 1/2 full of drone brood.

There seems to be a single queen cup that has emerged in the past week. It is sealed.
I’ll have to have another look at this tomorrow to see if it were on the edge or more central, hive doesn’t seem crowded, not sure why they might be preparing to swarm. Maybe it’s a superscedence cell.

There is some brood on all of the other frames but not one frame full, there are lots of larvae visible, I saw my queen a week ago but not today. I couldn’t see any eggs but I never have so that might just be my ineptness.

All up there would be about 1 side of honey spread across the entire brood box.

I took out the bottom tray just after I started this post 7 days ago and it was full of dead bees. This time there are none. Those dead bees may have built up over a month or so as I think I forgot to empty it once.

Does the state of my brood box resemble a hive fighting off robber bees?

My plan was to harvest the honey this week and take the super off to get everyone working in the brood box, fighting off robbers and building honey stores for winter.
Does this sound like a good idea or should I just leave things as they are for another month before harvesting the honey?

I shut the hive up one night and by 1:00 pm there were only about 10 suspected robbers bees gathering at the hive screen. A few hours After I opened it I thought there was still some robber activity but I’m wondering if it’s not as big a problem as I thought?

Thanks everyone for their feedback so far.

Mornington Peninsula

Hi Peter, I don’t think that you have a real robber problem, on account that no bees turned up during the morning. Added to that, you found no dead bees in the tray after a week. That in itself is a bit confusing because: how would dead bees fit through the slots that bees shouldn’t be able to fit through?

I’m not a fan of removing honey supers unless the likelihood of a colony swarming has passed. If I do remove a honey super, I’ll always remove some sealed brood & open the brood up to counteract the fact that I’ve reduced the area inside the hive. I believe that reducing a colonies hive area by half can trigger a colony to swarm.

Thanks Jeff,
I’ve been undecided about my robber bee problem and I’m also thinking it may be only minor. There are sign though, lots of wax chips on the landing board and afternoon action out the front of the hive with bees back and forth also many bees entering without pollen. On the other hand the hive seems relatively strong but maybe not as much brood as I would have thought.

I sighted the queen today.

Can you have a look at these photos and tell me what I’m looking at?

First one, are these queen cells there are these ones that have hatched and three others unhatched elsewhere I thought if they had hatched I might have already had a swarm?

Secondly is this one a supersedence cell? In from the side and above half way to the top?

Does this mean they are about to overthrow the old queen?
I thought she might have been a bit lazy?

I’m going to take two frames of honey today, my first harvest.
Given that the robber problem might not be as bad as I thought I plan to leave the supers on as I reckon we will have a lot of winter forage on my property.

Looking forward to your advice.

Thanks for your input.


Hi Peter they are all queen cups, even the one in the second photo. The one in the second photo is what the bees would likely use as a supersedure cell. The dark color indicates to me that it’s old wax & it’s probably solid wax, bar a shallow cup inside that newer looking wax.

The cups in the top photo (some people call “play cups”) are curved in, which will indicate that they haven’t been used yet. Plus they are not long enough. They are worth looking into for eggs, especially when they are extended down with new wax.

Is the queen cell near the top or bottom of the frame? (if top then it’s a supersedure, if bottom then it’s a swarm cell. according to the book " beekeeping for dummies)