Hello, Hello, Hello, what have we here then?
We have been plagued with robbing recently. Not just from other local beehives but from within our own. This was partly caused from my own inexperience, having left extracted panels too close to the hives for cleaning, and the rest from unusually high temperatures during the last month. From doing some research it seems a queen-less colony (now corrected) also attracts robbers since they sense a weak population and take advantage of the situation. This is what the entrance looks like with robbing.
We had thought that the robbing bees were from another location as their bodies were quite black and we had never seen this variety before. But after more research (thanks Norm) we have found out that the shiny dark bees are in fact our own. This characteristic is the result of the bees fighting in battle and losing their small hairs covering their bodies. We new this had been occurring for some time and we were unsure how to tackle the problem. It looks like the bees were getting to the end of their patience and it was time for us to come up with a long term solution. You can see the shiny bees in the following image.
This general view shows the large numbers of bees entering and the general hive population, wether defenders or not, just unable to stop the flow. Look closely and you will see the battles occurring with small clusters of bees attacking the robbers.
Our solution was to build some robbing screens to be placed at the hive entrance. This was done before dawn this morning while all the bees were still in their hives These screens have small entrances at the top (red arrow) so the colony bees can exit and defend better. It also gives them a reprieve to build up numbers and energy. The screen prohibits the robbing bees from flying directly into the hive. Once they become tired they will lose interest and return to their own hive. Thats the theory…
In a few days I will report back with more info on the success or not of these screens.