The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Robbing Honeybee Behavior

At first, I thought my weak hive had remarkably grown stronger.  Then I realized I was watching a full scale battle --- a stronger hive had decided to rob the weaker hive.

Robbing is a honeybee behavior most prevalent among Italian bees during a nectar dearth.  Our strong hives have hundreds (thousands?) of worker bees who just a few days ago were out collecting pollen and nectar from the late summer flowers.  Suddenly, the ragweed stopped blooming and nothing else filled in the gap.  Who can blame these out of work bees for stealing honey from their weaker neighbors?

At first, Mark and I were just going to let nature take its course.  That weak hive has been on its last legs for a month, and I don't think they're worth babying through the winter.  (In fact, I'm a little surprised they had any honey to be robbed!)  But then the robbing swarm moved on to our second weakest hive, which I actually consider a pretty strong hive.  I slapped on gloves and a veil and smashed entrance reducers in all four hives. 

Now, only a bee at a time can go in and out of our hives.  This makes it a lot easier for the robbed hives to fight off the marauders, but I'll have to be vigilant and take the reducers out if we get another honeyflow.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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