Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Worst Robbing I've Ever Heard Of

My biggest, most prolific hive, which is the mother to about four or five others got robbed the other week.  I'm not sure why.  I have never seen robbing on this scale.  I have never seen a strong hive get robbed.

Every drop of honey was robbed from this hive, I don't know how much, I hadn't checked this hive in a few weeks, but there was probably plenty.  After the robbing was done, after the bees gave up and left, I dismantled the hive, removing the top three boxes and placed a frame of honey in to avoid starvation.  The population of the hive had been reduced drastically.  There was a pile of dead bees in front of it more than an inch thick.

One of the changes I'm making due to this occurrence is to begin to place bees in outyards.  I'm developing a custom pallet in order to have four hive units that can be moved to other places.  The first one I have lined up is my church's farm where they need a little pollination.  It's also where I hope to sell nucs retail style in the future.  I'm going to try to limit my home yard to ten hives.  If all works well, perhaps I can move beyond sixteen total hives in the future.


  1. What a massacre!!! Had you inspected the hive earlier or did anything unusual happen prior to the robbing commencing?? Are you in a dearth?? It's interesting that apparently the smaller hives banded together to take on a power-hive.

    Best wishes on it's rebuilding!!!

  2. I had inspected a number of other hives in the yard that morning, but not this one. It's certainly puzzling. It has survived thus far, and it's been over a week.

  3. Did the queen survive?!! That's just-- wow.

  4. Ouch.. Don the FatBeeMan taught me a trick for robbing. I haven't had to use it yet since the robbing I've experienced has been small compared to that.
    Anyway, if that ever happens again pop the lids off of ALL the other colonies in that apiary. I know, you probably think that idea is crazy but think about it. All the robbers will GO HOME and protect their own. Don has been keeping bees over 50 years and is an unbelievably knowledgeable beek. I trust the advice.


  5. Just an update, a year later. This hive survived and was actually one of my breeders this spring. The queen did survive as well. I had to let all the honey get robbed out and when the robbing was over, I closed up the entrance to barely more than a single bee, added a frame of capped honey to make sure they didn't starve, and drastically reduced the size of the hive. They came through winter well and have done very well this year, producing more than two gallons of extra honey thus far.