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Bee-Ginner's Guide

Welcome to the Bee-ginner's Guide Blog. Here we will go over topics and tips you might need as you go through your first year as a beekeeper.

Every honey bee hive has one critical objective: making sure the colony thrives and has plenty of resources. Providing for your hives is not hard at all; giving them plenty of feed such as sugar syrup when they cannot forage is a great way to start. The biggest issue you will run into is making sure your hives don't rob from each other.

Robbing is, as it sounds, when honey bees rob nectar & honey from other hives to benefit their own. Robbing is a natural instinct within any breed of honey bee so it's not something we can stop. We can, however, make it much harder to rob while still getting the hive what it needs.

Weaker colonies have a much harder time producing enough protection against robbing, especially during times of dearth. If you see a lot of continuous aggressive behavior around the entrance of your hive, then that is most commonly a sign that they are trying to fight of robbing bees. One of the best ways to help with robbing is reducing as much entrance space as possible. Using an entrance reducer is a great way to help provide more manageable protection.

Entrance reducers are such a simple, inexpensive item but they can help with so much. Most commonly made of wood, they are the exact width of your hive entrance with varying size cutouts on each side which can be rotated to alter the entrance space of the hive. The smaller the entrance the easier it will be to protect. You will want to keep a closer eye on your hive during this time. Smaller entrances also slow down the foraging process because only so many bees can make it through. Once you notice that the hive has grown stronger and robbing has ceased, open up the entrance again.

Some other ways to help protect from robbing is by...

  • Using a moving & robbing screen on the entrance of your hive. During times of robbing, you can open up the top entrance of the screen and the bees who live in the hive will learn how to move through that entrance while the robbing bees are unaware of the new entrance. The smaller entrance will also be easier for the bees to guard if any of the robbers figure out where the entrance is.

  • Temporarily covering your hive with a moving net will help provide complete protection from robbing. You will want to wait and put it on closer to nightfall so you can make sure you don't trap any of the robbing bees in the hive or any of the foraging bees out.
In a perfect world, every hive would have equal access to all the foraging resources they need. Unfortunately that is not the case and there are times throughout every year where honey bees can't get what they need to they have to find other ways of finding food. There is really nothing we can do to stop robbing, but there is plenty we can do to prevent and minimize it.