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BEEKEEPING LEARNING CENTER => GENERAL BEEKEEPING - MAIN POSTING FORUM. => Topic started by: JCD3 on November 24, 2020, 02:06:42 am

Title: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: JCD3 on November 24, 2020, 02:06:42 am
I ran across a statement that a beekeeper must always locate a nuc or bee package a great distance from an existing strong hive or the strong hive will actively rob the smaller package/nuc out of existence? I have not seen that mentioned before. Any validity?

John
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: iddee on November 24, 2020, 06:17:54 am
During a haoney flow, that is incorrect. During a dearth, it is correct.  Reduce the entrance to a nuc and watch for robbing.
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: jvalentour on November 24, 2020, 10:31:57 am
It's good practice to keep nucs away from established hives to avoid robbing.
It's also good practice to reduce entrances on nucs.
The established hive does not always rob out a smaller hive.
I've gone to 1" circular entrances and done away with bottom boards for my nucs, I found the change helpful preventing robbing.  (Same as reduced entrance.)
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: cao on November 24, 2020, 11:45:34 am
Welcome.  :happy:

x2 on what iddee said.
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: The15thMember on November 24, 2020, 12:11:01 pm
I ran across a statement that a beekeeper must always locate a nuc or bee package a great distance from an existing strong hive or the strong hive will actively rob the smaller package/nuc out of existence? I have not seen that mentioned before. Any validity?

John
You must always be suspicious of beekeeping advice that contains the words "must always".  :wink:  Welcome to Beemaster.  :happy:
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: little john on November 24, 2020, 12:25:13 pm
Whether robbing takes place or not in an apiary is down to the Waggle Dance, which forager-scouts use to (somehow) communicate with other bees the geographical coordinates of a food source - this applies whether the food source is 'out there in the fields' or lies within a neighbouring hive.

If, during a flow, a particular forager-scout detects a source of food within a newly-made nuc or a weak colony, that scout's dance will be drowned-out within it's own (or parent) hive by the numerous dances of other scouts who have detected food 'out there' in the fields - but - during a dearth of nectar, that scout's dance will then be the only dance in town, and so other forager bees will listen to it and respond accordingly. At first a few scouts will fly out to check for validity and ease of access, and if upon their return they add to the same information, then at some point a threshold level is reached, at which point classic full-scale mob-handed robbing begins.

However, there is another type of robbing you should be aware of, which can occur within a single-yard apiary. This is sometimes called 'passive robbing', but I prefer the term 'latent robbing' for it is effectively hidden from the beekeeper, who interprets the entrance activity as nothing more than normal hive traffic. It occurs thus:

When a nuc is made-up, (say, from a split) then it is almost guaranteed that a handful of bees within that nuc will be forager-class bees. Over the hours and days that follow, those bees will fly back to the hive from which the nuc was made. If there is a dearth of nectar in progress, then those foragers are in possession of the food source coordinates of the nuc box, and so can readily return to it. Upon arriving at the nuc box, they are able to avoid any challenge as they smell exactly the same as all the other bees in that box, and so will be able to enter and help themselves to food. They can then return to their own hive carrying that food, and the cycle frequently becomes repeated. The nucleus colony is seen by the forager-bee as simply an extension of it's own hive, and all that it (or they) are doing is re-locating food from one part of 'the hive' to another. It is a very 'civilised' form of robbing which appears to the beekeeper as normal entrance traffic, but the nucleus colony will almost certainly suffer as a result.

If, however, the beekeeper is unlucky enough to have included a forager-scout bee when making-up the nuc, then a much different outcome develops, as a Waggle Dance will be generated as before, and mob-handed robbing will undoubtedly result from this.

All the above cases have two solutions: the first is to move nucleus colonies to a separate yard, preferably more than three miles away. The second - if you operate within a single yard (as I do) - is to fit anti-robbing screens to every nuc as soon as it is made up.  Even if a forager-scout (accidently included within a nucleus colony when first made-up) is able to circumvent that anti-robbing screen and thus 'report back', subsequent robber-scouts will not, and so any potential robbing soon fizzles out.

The 'trick' regarding robbing is to prevent it from starting - which is so much easier than trying to stop it once it's underway.

Hope at least some of the above is helpful.
LJ
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: sawdstmakr on November 24, 2020, 01:16:36 pm
JCD,
Welcome to Beemaster.
Ditto the previous statements.
Jim Altmiller
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: van from Arkansas on November 24, 2020, 02:32:16 pm
Whether robbing takes place or not in an apiary is down to the Waggle Dance, which forager-scouts use to (somehow) communicate with other bees the geographical coordinates of a food source - this applies whether the food source is 'out there in the fields' or lies within a neighbouring hive.

If, during a flow, a particular forager-scout detects a source of food within a newly-made nuc or a weak colony, that scout's dance will be drowned-out within it's own (or parent) hive by the numerous dances of other scouts who have detected food 'out there' in the fields - but - during a dearth of nectar, that scout's dance will then be the only dance in town, and so other forager bees will listen to it and respond accordingly. At first a few scouts will fly out to check for validity and ease of access, and if upon their return they add to the same information, then at some point a threshold level is reached, at which point classic full-scale mob-handed robbing begins.

However, there is another type of robbing you should be aware of, which can occur within a single-yard apiary. This is sometimes called 'passive robbing', but I prefer the term 'latent robbing' for it is effectively hidden from the beekeeper, who interprets the entrance activity as nothing more than normal hive traffic. It occurs thus:

When a nuc is made-up, (say, from a split) then it is almost guaranteed that a handful of bees within that nuc will be forager-class bees. Over the hours and days that follow, those bees will fly back to the hive from which the nuc was made. If there is a dearth of nectar in progress, then those foragers are in possession of the food source coordinates of the nuc box, and so can readily return to it. Upon arriving at the nuc box, they are able to avoid any challenge as they smell exactly the same as all the other bees in that box, and so will be able to enter and help themselves to food. They can then return to their own hive carrying that food, and the cycle frequently becomes repeated. The nucleus colony is seen by the forager-bee as simply an extension of it's own hive, and all that it (or they) are doing is re-locating food from one part of 'the hive' to another. It is a very 'civilised' form of robbing which appears to the beekeeper as normal entrance traffic, but the nucleus colony will almost certainly suffer as a result.

If, however, the beekeeper is unlucky enough to have included a forager-scout bee when making-up the nuc, then a much different outcome develops, as a Waggle Dance will be generated as before, and mob-handed robbing will undoubtedly result from this.

All the above cases have two solutions: the first is to move nucleus colonies to a separate yard, preferably more than three miles away. The second - if you operate within a single yard (as I do) - is to fit anti-robbing screens to every nuc as soon as it is made up.  Even if a forager-scout (accidently included within a nucleus colony when first made-up) is able to circumvent that anti-robbing screen and thus 'report back', subsequent robber-scouts will not, and so any potential robbing soon fizzles out.

The 'trick' regarding robbing is to prevent it from starting - which is so much easier than trying to stop it once it's underway.

Hope at least some of the above is helpful.
LJ

Hi Lil John:  a comment to your excellent post regarding passive or latent robbing:

I have a single yard also, so when I create nucs, I move the parent hive that was used to create the nuc.  When the foragers from the nuc try to return to the parent colony, the parent hive is not there and passive robbing is usually avoided.

Greetings there across the pond.

Van
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: rast on November 24, 2020, 08:02:52 pm
 I now just fit the robber screens to my nucs when made and leave them in my yard. I think it was last year I took a couple to a new location and when I came back 5 days later they were being finished off by robbing "feral" bees from somewhere out in the woods. These were made with mated queens and I lost both.
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: beesnweeds on November 24, 2020, 11:42:49 pm
  When I make up nucs I typically place them next to the parent hive with no issues.  The problems arise when reward outweighs risk.  Nucs with young queens and lots of young bees, brood, pollen and honey are too much of a risk.  Don't make weak nucs and raise your own queens.  Maintain low mite counts.  I tossed the robbing screens years ago. If a hive gets robbed its my fault because I didn't do routine inspections and didn't catch the weak hive with queen problems.
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: JCD3 on November 25, 2020, 04:27:24 pm
Lots of great information and I was following along pretty well until I finally became overwhelmed. Maybe I should have explained my situation better.
My wife and I reserved our first two nucs last year from a beekeeper 200 miles away. He is still making excuses as to why he failed to deliver. Lesson learned. Money gone. Covering our losses, we ordered two packages late in the season. Lost one but the other is going into the winter very strong. We now have located a dependable nuc supplier and plan to purchase four of his nucs for next spring. We live on a ranch and our remaining hive is protected from inquisitive yearlings by four 16 foot wire stock panels supported by t-posts. My intent was to install the four new nucs into deep boxes within this square. I can add panels to provide more space if necessary. Am I on the right track or do I need to consider robber screens and/or more distance.

I thought I knew everything until I discovered that I knew nothing.
John

Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: little john on November 25, 2020, 06:57:19 pm
Hi John - with bees, unless you're talking miles of separation, then distance becomes irrelevant - two feet, two thousand feet, they'll find what they're after, if it's there.

Anti-robbing screens are usually only required (imo) when making-up nucs.  What you're talking about is buying-in ready-made nucs in the Spring, presumably when there's a flow in progress.  Because there'll be plenty of food 'out there' to be had at that time, there's no real motivation for any colony to rob another.  That scenario only comes later in the year when a dearth of nectar develops - but by then, your nucs should have expanded to a large enough size to defend themselves.

I know quite a lot - which is just enough for me to realise that I actually know very little ...
LJ
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: JCD3 on November 25, 2020, 10:52:50 pm
Thanks little john for the clarification. I suspected that was the case after reading the thread. I will proceed as planned and you guys have given me good food for thought as the apiary expands.

John
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: Michael Bush on November 26, 2020, 01:01:21 pm
I set up hundreds of mating nucs.  Two or three medium frames.  All in the same yard as my strong hives.  I seldom see any of them get robbed.  The entrances are very small which helps a lot.  But sometimes weak hives do get robbed.  One way to think of this correctly is to think of a strong hive, not as a hive with a lot of bees, but one with a good density of bees and a weak hive as one with a low density of bees.  Strong hives, however small, usually do fine.
Title: Re: Established hive robbing NUC
Post by: van from Arkansas on November 27, 2020, 08:24:49 pm
I know quite a lot - which is just enough for me to realise that I actually know very little ...
LJ

...A weak hive as one with a low density of bees.  M. Bush


Every so often, actually rarely, I read a text that I think is brilliantly stated and worth repeating.  I posted two such text above both from this topic.  Very wise words.

Best to your bees!
Van