Question about robber bees

by Kay Harnden
(Houston, Tx, USA)

By providing an additional entrance and/or ventilation, aren't you encouraging robber bees?

Hi Kay,

That's a good question.

You wouldn't want to create extra entrances on a new hive. In fact, making it easier for the hive to defend itself is the primary reason for reducing the entrance in a new hive.

But once the colony has built up to a substantial population, they are well able to guard and defend the expanded entrance area.

If you were to look at some feral hives (and there unfortunately aren't as many of those as their used to be), you'd find many that established themselves in a location with multiple entrances or rather large entrances.

So as long as the colony is strong in population, guard bees will defend multiple entrances (within reason) as thoroughly as just the one.

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Dec 08, 2010
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Follow up
by: Kay

Thanks! I think one of my hives got taken yesterday by robber bees. Will robber bees attack in groups? Do they kill bees in the hive? I had what looked like bees getting ready to swarm yesterday, but it was 40 degrees and cloudy. There was quite a commotion. Loud humming from inside the hive. Bees collecting at entrance and cracks in the boxes. Today all is still. Dead bees at the entrance and inside the top. One lone bee flew out. I haven't opened the hive because I don't have my tools with me, but there was a lot of debris at the entrance that could have been bits of wax capping. This is a hive that I put in place in May, so it might have been a weaker colony. What do you think?
Thanks! Kay

Kay, Once robbing gets started, it is possible for lots of bees to overwhelm a hive completely, and rob all of the honey out of it. And yes, there can be fighting resulting in lots of dead bees.

In fact, it's not good to be in a bee yard during a large-scale outbreak of robbing, because the bees in all of the colonies tend to become highly defensive. A bystander could easily be stung in such a situation.

Can't say whether that happened to your bees; it'll take a look inside the hive to be sure. But cappings and dead bees on the bottom board are indeed possible indications of robbing.

However, you mention that the temperature was around 40 degrees, and I'd be very surprised if bees were flying much at that temperature.

Let us know what you find out!

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