Detecting and Dealing with Robber Bees and Wasps

Author: Meera, October 13, 2015

In autumn when there are few nectar sources for the bees, you might see more bees out looking for food. Wasps will be about, too, since their queens must hibernate over the winter and will leave the colony; itself collapses. This means that lots of bees are looking for shrinking nectar sources. Stealing honey from a neighbor’s hive is a distinct possibility.



How will you know that bees and/or wasps are attempting to invade your hives? Robber bees and wasps will not fly directly in or the resident bees will attack. Instead, the robbers will approach from the sides. They may also fly in a zigzag pattern.



We built a three-sided bee house to hold our hives. The rear is open.

Our three-sided bee house with rear access allows easy hive inspections. It holds three hives and keeps the hives dry in rain.



What to do if you suspect robbers. The best course of action would be to insert into the opening of the hive a wooden board that has a small rectangular opening or hole in it. This effectively reduces the size of the entrance, making it easier to defend.



Hives with small numbers of bees won’t have the capability to defend a large entrance opening, so it makes sense to insert an entrance reducer board.



In the winter, the entrance reducer board will also help to keep out inclement weather like rain and snow as well as reduce drafts.



The drone (male bees) are vital for mating with the queen; after that, they are unnecessary and are elminated

The reducer board (the yellow wooden insert in the white hive) reduces the size of the of the hive opening.



I confess that I don’t know how beekeepers care for their hives in other parts of the country. My knowledge comes from my experience keeping my own bees in the East Bay’s microclimate where the summers are hot, and the winters are typically cold and rainy.



I’ve also learned a lot from my beekeeper neighbor whose father was a beekeeper in the mountains of Lebanon. Over the last five years, this neighbor  has generously shared his knowledge with me as we’ve worked on our respective hives together.




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