Monday, September 14, 2015

Tales from the Apiary contributed by beekeeper Denise

story from the hive - NOT one of mine....but i still feel terrible.

student sent me a video with a question, "what's going on here?"

the video showed 3 hives next to each other with about a foot of
space between.  the hive on the left was APPARENTLY the strongest
of the had 3 honey supers on it.

bees were POURING OUT from the bottom entrance - many of them
crawling up the front vertically - only to amass...and fall to the ground.
(and seemingly the other hives were not effected)

i replied, "ROBBING"  (4 pm in the afternoon)
he asked - what can i do?  i replied - pretty much nothing...throw a sheet over it.
and reduce the entrances on the other hives!
which he did...  the beekeeper and his family were leaving for a camping
trip and didn't have an immediate chance to go through the hive. when he came
back and went through the hive - he reported....

TOTAL LOSS - all the honey gone
MASSES of dead bees on the ground

....makes me want to tear into my own hives RIGHT NOW!!!!

EDITORS COMMENTS: This is fall.  This time of year is definitely one of poor availability of nectar and pollen.  Bees will rob neighboring hives to try to support their own populations.  Any weakness is exploited.  The Italian strain of bees is especially known for this.   In this particular case it appears hive beetles have weakened a previously strong hive.  It neighbors commenced to rob it.  This usually results in enormous battles to the death inside the the hive bees defend their winter food supply.  What can you do?  For weaker hives it is a good idea to re-install the entrance reducer with the 4-5 inch wide entrance in position.  This lessens the width of entrance the guard bees need to cover.  .If you see a lot of wax flakes at the hive entrance robbing is probably occurring as the robber bees decap the stored honey. Another tip off is a huge increase in flight activity at a hive entrance.  Compare activity between hives.  The one with the most activity is probably being robbed.  

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