We’ve talked about the way killer bees infiltrate a hive, but what I’d like to mention today is hive robbing by regular little worker honey bees.
If a hive is weak—because of an inefficient queen, perhaps, or because the hive simply isn’t well-enough populated—then bees from other hives will do their best to sneak in and rob the honey and pollen stores. If the beekeeper is feeding with sugar water, the intruders will take that as well, leaving the original hive inhabitants to starve. I hope this is something I never have to deal with.
How to avoid a problem? I’m glad you asked.
1. Monitor the hive to catch problems before they get serious. That’s what the books say, as if I’m supposed to know what to look for.
2. Feed the bees at the rear of the hive rather than right at the front door, so that robbers would have to negotiate the length of the hive and would probably be stopped before they got to their goal. Langstroth hives are traditionally built to accommodate an entrance feeder. This makes it harder for the guard bees to keep out a mass of intruders. The bee hives I’m buying (and the ones I’ll build) all feed at the rear, however, so I should be okay.
3. Reduce the size of the entrance. You can buy fancy entrance reducers, but my hives have a small hole as the entrance to begin with. That’s the usual design of top bar hives as well, so when I build mine, I’ll put in three entrance holes and cork the ones that aren’t ready to be used yet. (I’ll explain this in a later blog.)
4. As a last resort, break up a weak hive by eliminating the queen and placing that hive’s brood comb in a stronger hive. I’ve said it before: I DON’T want to squish a queen, so this last resort will probably never be used at BeesKnees Beekeeping.
And now, while we’re talking about burglars, here’s a fun story from a National Public Radio blog: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/02/15/133784265/no-not-a-cat-burglar-a-cat-thats-a-burglar
BEEattitude for Day # 127:
Blessed are those who keep their feet to themselves, for we shall not resort to stinging them.
One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
Steve Reiman, founder of Therapy Dogs of Vermont, who sent me that blog link