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Bees robbing honey

Posted: Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:54 am
by imafan26
The bees are dying. They are in robber mode robbing honey from each other and bees are lost in the ensuing fights between the robbers and the hive guards. Apparently this happens now and again and is a natural process. What triggers it, I don't know. It is more of a problem when people have more than 10 hives. Not all of them are robbing as I am still seeing some bees earning an honest living by coming twice a day to take the nectar from the flowers in my garden.

The bees become a bit more aggressive when robbing is going on so we decided to wait to do the next inspection until January, hoping that the robbing will be done and the bees will be calmer.

Re: Bees robbing honey

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:54 pm
by imafan26
We just checked the hives yesterday. The hive beetles were only active in one colony, the growing one. There was some honey being robbed also by the active colony. The other hives were pretty calm and they are building. The hive we have been trying to grow for a year finally has a really good brood so we may finally be able to split the hive around March. We have taken out the queen excluders in all except one hive to get the colonies to grow and get stronger. Some of the bees were carrying pollen and we have corn tasseling now in the garden so they should have something to eat. Some of the early mango trees are starting to flower too and the honey from the orchard is usually lighter and less bitter than the honey we get at the end of the year.

The honey from our harvest last month was turbid and some of the jars are already starting to crystalize.

We are going to try the shop towel on the hive to see if it works as as oil traps.

We also have ants around the hives. That we do have to watch out for, ants have driven the bees out of the hives before.

Re: Bees robbing honey

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:31 pm
by Gary350
Do you let the bees recover the wax after harvesting honey?

I know 2 different people with bees that both do things totally different. One person smokes the hive to get honey then they leave all the wax coated with honey out so the bees can reclaim it and take it back into the hive. The other person puts the wax is a solar heater so the honey runs out on its own in about a week. Was is totally clean of all honey so he melts the wax into blocks and sells it.

I don't know anything about bee keeping but it seem logical honey is worth more $$$ than wax. If you let bees recover wax they might produce more honey?

Re: Bees robbing honey

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:55 pm
by imafan26
We have an extractor so we just use a knife and comb to uncap the honey and spin it. We put the frames back into the hives and the bees fix them up and reuse them. The frames are replaced about every 5 years. Some of the frames do not have foundation and the bees draw their own comb. The parts that we cut off and the honey we extracted from the top bar hives are pressed with potato mashers through filters. The wax from those operations are taken home by some of the people in the hui. Actually, there a few people who want it. One person makes candles , another, makes surfboard wax, and someone uses the beeswax and honey to make hand lotions.

We try not to smoke the honey frames as much as possible because we don't want to change the flavor of the honey. There were some hives, that were not being monitored as often and there was comb attached to the cover, between and under the frames. There were whole frames of just drones. We salvaged some of the comb by doing a cut and paste of the honey combs to make them fit inside the frame. Rubber bands were used to keep the comb from falling out. Eventually the bees will mend and fill in the blank spots. Combs that are drawn are usually not as even as the ones on foundation.

Re: Bees robbing honey

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2016 4:05 pm
by jal_ut
If robbing is going on, it is good to use entrance blocks that reduce the size of the entrance so the bees are better able to defend their entry.

Re: Bees robbing honey

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2016 5:13 pm
by imafan26
Good news, a couple of the hives may have enough honey soon to harvest. We saw bees carrying pollen in their sacs and we saw one of the queens although she was very camera shy and kept ducking to the other side. We saw some drone cells. One of the hives was weak and we will need to treat that one. We gave the super from that hive to the strong hive that needed more space. Our captured swarm hive and the other two hives look very good with lots of brood. We have taken all of the excluders out to build more bees. We need to get new queens so we can finally split one of the hives and if we can get another deep we can set the other strong hive up for splitting later. We also need to get more supers and frames.

Re: Bees robbing honey

Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:00 pm
by jal_ut
The beeswax is produced by some glands on the sides of the bee's body. It is used by the bees to build comb. Unfortunately if you let the bees build wild comb, it stretches and sags and many of the cells are drone size. When the queen lays an egg in a drone cell you get a drone. The drones are the males and are lazy. Their only function in life is to mate with the queen, which only happens once in her life time.

I keep bees in the standard Langstroth hive. I use frames that are pre-assembled and use full sheets of reinforced foundation. Nearly every cell will be worker size. These frames can be taken out and de-capped and ran in the extractor (spinner) to extract the honey then put back in the hive to be filled again, or at end of season, stored for use next year. Honey boxes are kept separate from brood boxes and I use queen excluders to keep the queen and brood out of the honey boxes.

About wax, if melted down and put into small molds, (I like standard baking cupcake papers) you can sell the wax for about the same price per pound as you ask for your honey. Beeswax has many uses and lots of people buy it.

imafan26, I keep bees in cold Northern Utah. A far cry, I am sure, from your location. Here package bees are available in springtime and we replace our winter losses with packages. Are packages available there?

Re: Bees robbing honey

Posted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 7:07 am
by imafan26
We get Queens from the Big Island. There are no packages available here and bees don't fly in airplanes for 5-6 hours very well. We capture swarms or split hives.

We have Langstroth hives and we do use excluders when we are getting ready for a harvest. We can usually harvest every three to four months. One of the queens we have makes a strong brood, but she is small and cannot be contained by an excluder and she likes to brood in the top box like a wild queen, so we have our brood box on top. Otherwise she will brood in the super. We left the excluders out on most of our hives because we have a lot of problems with hive beetles so we want to build hives with a lot of bees so they can defend the hive better.

We just treated the hives with MAQ's. Our bees can continue to forage during this time of year but the honey is darker because of the kinds of flowers that are available to them.

We started replacing the foundations and frames on the hives because they were getting old. The bees did not seem to like the new foundations and were slow to build on them, preferring to build between the frames and hung combs from the inner cover. Usually we buy frames with foundation because the cells are more even. I don't know why these bees are so reluctant to build on them.

We are only allowed to keep 4 hives which makes harvesting less practical since sometimes we don't have a lot of supers to harvest. We used to freeze the supers of capped honey but it is hard to get someone to transport it to the freezer and it takes a long time to thaw and spin. With so few hives, and because we don't want to keep a lot of honey on the hives we have to have more small harvests of 1-3 supers rather than 5 or more supers. It raises our costs since fixed costs are the same.

Right now we have 5 hives because one was weak. If we have 5 strong hives, we have to give one away or have it taken to another apiary where they are allowed to have more. If we lose a hive, we can either capture a swarm or get another hive from the other apiary.

The hives we have belong to the university and they are part an educational program to learn about beekeeping and to teach the public about bees and pollinators. We have a teaching hive and an observation hive we can use for outreach and we have advanced education sessions. Some of our members do have their own hives, most start out with a top bar hive since it is the easiest to build.

Some of us don't have the space, and just want to take care of the bees we have. I just take care of the bees at the garden, I don't really have the space or the time to keep bees at home. I do plant my yard to attract bees and pollinators so I have a variety of nectar and pollen plants for them and unless it rains (an they stay home), I get bee visits a couple of times a day. They like the alyssum, cuphea, basil and Mexican oregano. Those plants are pretty much in bloom year round for me. The bees are slowly making a comeback. After the varoa mite and hive beetle started attacking the bees in 2011, most of the bees died. For a while I went from a bee every inch to a single bee in my front yard. Swarms from managed hives are restocking the wild bees and more are returning but not in great numbers. More people are interested in beekeeping and managed hives will probably in the end be the only survivors as the wild bees will continue to have to deal with varoa and small hive beetles. Unfortunately, the wild hives also have to contend with people who kill them when they swarm around their homes.