Learn how to combat beehive robbing with the help of Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
Beekeeping is the fun hobby with sweet rewards. However, sometimes a beehive can be attacked by invader bees from another hive, which is called beehive robbing. Learn how to stop invader bees from robbing your hives with the help of Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
When Invaders Attack the Hive
Invader bees will typically attack a hive if the hive is weak or the invaders are desperate for nectar. Novice beekeepers might see the invader bees and think there’s a lot of normal activity around the hive. It’s quite the opposite. A beehive that’s being robbed will defend their hive to the death. Worst case scenario, your entire bee colony can be destroyed. The bee colony can also lose all its stored food. Robbing can also make your bees more aggressive, which will make your job as a beekeeper harder–and probably more painful.
It’s important to know the difference between normal bee behavior and robbing behavior. There are a few warning signs that can indicate robbing. Normally, bees that have been foraging will appear weighed down by nectar and shoot straight into the hive entrance. Robbing bees, however, won’t look weighed down and will buzz from side to side as they try to sneak into the hive. Robbing bees will also leave the hive filled up on honey, which makes it difficult to fly. They’ll typically climb up the hive and have a slight dip in their flight path as they leave. Finally, if you get in close, you should be able to see bees fighting on the hive entrance or on the ground in front of the hive. Your bees are trying to defend their hive from the robbing bees.
How to Handle Beehive Robbing
If your beehives are under attack, there are a few things you can do to protect them. Use an entrance reducer to minimize the number of bees going in and out of the hive. Typically, robbing happens in the fall or winter when nectar is scarce, but it can happen in the spring or summer, too. If that’s the case, you’ll want to use a second tactic as an entrance reducer can hinder ventilation in the beehive. The second way to combat beehive robbing is by draping a wet bed sheet over the hive. The wet sheet should drape all the way to the ground, blocking off the invaders. Re-wet the sheet if it dries, and remove it after a day or two.
How to Prevent Beehive Robbing
Ideally, you’ll want to prevent robbing before it ever happens in your beehives. To prevent beehive robbing, use an entrance reducer until your hive is strong enough to ward off invaders. The perfect opportunity for robbing is when you’re harvesting honey. Don’t leave honey out for the bees–it’s an easy way for other bees to take it. Also keep honey supers covered when you’ve removed them from the hive for harvesting. Finally, be careful when you’re feeding your bees sugar syrup. Spilling any outside the hive can attract other bees.
Whether you’re a beginner beekeeper or a seasoned expert, you’ll find all the beekeeping supplies you need at Blain’s Farm & Fleet. From protective clothing to beehives, you can get your own apiary started right in your backyard. For more tips on the caring and keeping of your bees, visit our Beekeeping blog.