Hi! This is Adriana, the beekeeper from South Mountain Bees.
Remember when we were talking about summer dearth and the risk of robbing? Well, it happened.
The nectar flow came to a complete stop, and bees were hanging out on the hive porch on Friday afternoon, when I noticed unusual traffic in one of the hives. I was almost sure it was robbing. I took this brief video. I texted it to my mentor, Master Beekeeper Landi Simone, asking "Is this robbing?", and she texted back: "Definitely!"
You can see how the bees are climbing up the front of the hive as they leave loaded with what they could get from the target hive. In contrast, you don't see that kind of marching up the front on the other hives.
Those are the moments I wished I were a more experienced beekeeper who prevents this kinds of attacks. Although, you can't really avoid them completely, you can definitely minimize the damage.
Here you can see a close up. It's pretty intense.
I decided on a course of action, while gathering my bee suit, gloves, bee brush, and anything else to manage the situation.
Normally, one would cover most of the entrance to reduce the space the bees have to protect. Stuffing the entrance with grass, is a standard emergency maneuver. But I had just started a mite treatment (I'll talk about mites some other time.), and I couldn't really block the entrance without suffocating the bees.
I decided to install a robbing screen made of #8 hardware cloth shaped like a step, so that the only entrance was on the side, but air could still flow in and out.
You probably noticed that the hive being attacked in the first two videos had a blue "box" at the bottom, while this one is purple. So what happened?, you might wonder. By the time I got back suited up, with the robbing screen, and the stapler to fix the screen to the hive, the "thieves" had moved to another hive so I focused on protecting that one first. In total, three hives were robbed. Eventually, I managed to mitigate the attacks, and they went away.
Since it doesn't always happen, it is easy to relax a bit too much, and hope it will not happen this year, but from now on, I need to make sure that even before the dearth hits, the robbing screens are in place.
Live and learn.
I will wait a few days to assess the extent of the damage once I can open the hives again without undermining the mite treatment.
I will share what I find.