Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

Robbing on a strong hive?

Hi All
Does this photo suggest robbing to you? I can’t recall a time when I have clusters of bees at strange entrances. It’s a very strong hive, producing well now in spring. Lots of flowering plants near me (Brisbane), so no idea why they’d go to the effort of robbing mine?!

If it is robbing, will they eventually give up because the hive is strong? I haven’t reduced the entrance/closed it up/placed wet blankets yet as I haven’t seen many actually get inside, and certainly not come out laden with honey.

Would love some advice please!

Looks like bearding and washboarding to me.

You’ll know when robbing is happening… it’s very violent, a lot of bees fighting And rolling on the ground.

1 Like

That isn’t robbing. Maybe you haven’t done a Spring split of the hive and it is getting over populated for the size of the hive.
How long ago did you do a full inspection of the hive including the brood box? Another cause of what I’m seeing is an overly hot hive so a lot of bees will move out to help lower the hives temperature along with bees fanning at the entrance.
When you see a robbing event happening you will see a ‘bar room brawl’ at the landing board with bees in mortal combat to the death. Robbing bees will fly straight to the entrance with full on aggression for the bees in the colony they are intent on robbing…

1 Like

Thanks for replying. I did a full inspection a couple of weeks ago. Lots of good brood and honey production ramped up too with the warmer weather. All going swimmingly other than clusters of bees that seem to be trying to get in at the crack between brood and super box and the roof, which is why I thought robbing might be the cause.

When I inspected my hive I took out a couple of honey frames from the brood box and left them out the front of the hive so that they could retake the honey. Have since learnt this is not a good idea. Now worried I’ve attracted robbers. I’ve taken those frames away, but those clusters have remained for almost a week…

Ps- the bearding in the photo is normal for the time of day that I happened to take the photo. They always do it at 3pm on the dot!

Leaving frames of nectar and/or honey outside the hive is a very loud NO-NO, it is an invitation to robbing as well as illegal.
Just a hunch but the clustering may be because the hive is over heating inside. Is your hive in full sun most of the day? If so remember the optimal brood cluster temperature is 34C+/-1C so while a colored roof looks pretty the comfort of the bees is more important. I’m up at Coolum Beach and a bit of a traditional thinking bee keeper and all my hives are painted white but in Summer I still have hives over heating.

Yep totally get that now Peter, definitely won’t do that again!
My hive has some shade through the day, and on super hot days I add extra shade on the roof with corflute.

It’s really just the change in their pattern that bothers me. I’ve had them beard and come out to air condition the hives plenty of times, but always from the landing board up or down. Never cluster in other groups around the hive through the day as though trying to find openings. Some bees seem to be chasing bees in the cluster too. Just not ‘to the death’ fighting which is why I’m confused.

If there is potential robbing, will they normally eventually give up if the hive is healthy and strong? Anything I should do or just wait and see if more come?

It could be scout bees testing the hive for a weak point to attack and rob the hive. If that is the case it could go on for weeks or as long as a dearth lasts. I haven’t seen robbing issues unless there is a dearth. I have hives as close as 20cm apart with no robbing issues for many years till the drought and dearth last Summer.
But this Spring there is great foraging in the bush. A recent trip down to the Gold Coast I found hives down there in swarming mode and very strong but no robbing down there either,

That’s reassuring, thanks.
My second hive is new and located just behind and only got its super on a few weeks ago. It’s going well but no where near as strong yet as the blue roof one which smells very strongly of honey. Luckily no signs of robbers on that one as that would definitely be a problem.

1 Like

They could be resealing the tiny gap between the boxes or cleaning up any squished bees.

I hope so! Though I can only see one squished bee poking out and they aren’t going near it. The ones around the top end the handle worry me. They seem to try and make a break for the landing board but get chased back up.

I saw this photo as an example of how robber bees congregate trying to find new entrances and it seemed a little similar.