Thieves, thieves, tramps and thieves
Bees break several of the 10 Commandment. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not murder. Thou shalt not covet.
We had a troublesome hive. It swarmed itself about to death, never recovered, and was queen less.There were enough bees left that we thought it could be requeened with a good chance to make it through the winter.
We put the queen in, made sure she was out in three days, and waited a couple weeks. Remember the Life Cycle? In a couple weeks we should have seen capped brood.
What did we find when we returned? Death and destruction.
A hive always has guard bees. If you watch them go in and out you’ll see them checking out who’s trying to gain access. Sometimes you’ll see the guard bee wrestle with an intruder.
Hives will have scout bees. If they find a weak hive they are able to penetrate they report back to their hive. Waves of bees will make an assault. Bee war is not pretty. If they are successful all the residents are killed along with the queen. Then they plunder the honey.
We lost a $35 queen, a whole hive, and the potential of production for next year. Do the math. If a hive puts up 70 pounds of honey at $8 a pound, well, you are talking some serious scratch.
As we get into the dearth, a period where there is little forage, robbing behavior increases. Robbing by yellow jackets and hornets is also a threat.
The best defense is a reduced entrance. However, even in this case it was not enough. Another thing to possibly do is combine the hive down to one deep if there aren’t a lot of bees. We’ve had success in overwintering one deep of bees with a candy board.