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  • Bailey comb exchange - reassurance/advice please!

  • Beginners forum, ask beekeeping related questions and get help from other experienced beekeepers. Please use the Search Feature please to avoid duplicated threads
Beginners forum, ask beekeeping related questions and get help from other experienced beekeepers. Please use the Search Feature please to avoid duplicated threads
 #8387  by DryRedFrog
 03 Aug 2020, 18:12
What a rollercoaster of a day - I have no idea what's going on but I suspect it isn't good...

We've got two hives in the apiary, A and L, and it is L that we've been doing the Bailey Comb exchange with.

It's been over three weeks since the QE went in, the new brood box is nicely full of brood and stores and a week or so ago I put a super above another QE on to give them room to expand the stores. They haven't done a huge amount to the super yet but I wasn't expecting much.

Today my assistant was available to help, so we lifted off the new super/brood, removed the old brood and eke, and put the new super/brood back onto the base. So far, so good.

We then opened the old brood box, hoping for it to be empty. There was no brood (yay!) but still a fair amount of honey/nectar/pollen stores. We shook the bees from the old brood frames into the new super and put the old frames to one side. I think this is where it started to go wrong. By the time we'd shaken all the frames off, replaced the crown board and roof the old frames had attracted a lot of attention.

We moved the old frames about 50m away, hoping that the bees would clear out the stores. A large number of bees did indeed start 'harvesting' (robbing). There were bees fighting - I presume bees from Hive L fighting with bees from Hive A? I went back to the apiary and Hive L seemed placid - there were a few bees trying to get in the 'top entrance' that no longer existed, but all was calm. Hive A however was a frenzy - was it being robbed? I popped an entrance excluder in which seemed to help a bit. We then shook off the old frames again and put them in sealed boxes in the garage, so have removed the 'open feeding'. I've now retreated for a cup of tea!

What is confusing me is why is it Hive A that seems to be being robbed? Theories so far:

a) Hive A is much more active as there was suddenly free forage/open feeding nearby and they all nipped out to take advantage. It isn't being robbed, just looks busy.

b) Hive A's bees picked up some of Hive L's pheromone from the honey/comb and when they've gone back to Hive A the guard bees are not letting them back in. So that they're fighting themselves. This might diminish their numbers a bit but stores should remain intact.

c) Hive L's bees got grumpy when we shook them off of the old brood frames and have gone on the rampage.

Any ideas or comments folks? I know I've probably messed up here.... :cry:
 #8388  by NigelP
 03 Aug 2020, 18:45
First question is why were you doing a bailey comb exchange, what circumstances dictated this?
I think you ave too many things going on all at once to make any real sense out of what is happening.
Wait until tomorrow and re-assess.
 #8395  by AdamD
 04 Aug 2020, 10:27
Robbing in an apiary is common if you leave some food out which is why we are told to feed in the evening and not during the day. Robbing is much more prevalent when there's no nectar flow (now for me). The reason to feed in the evening is this:-
Bees do a waggle dance to tell their sisters where food is - we are all aware of that and it gives distance and direction to the food source. However the waggle dance does not work for distances below around 100 metres (some say less) and the round dance is used and the round dance does not give a sense of direction. This is a dance that simply says "there's food outside somewhere, go get it girls" So the bees go out and look for food. Anywhere. And the anywhere will naturally be another hive which wafts a honey aroma out of it. Bees consider a feeder as 'outside' their hive so they will leave the hive hunting for food. Feeding in the evening means that the bees don't go out looking and by morning they have worked out that the food is above their head so they don't search for it the next day. Spilling syrup or leaving comb around the apiary will set off robbing. I made the mistake of leaving an extracted super in the back of the pick up a week ago and the apiary was absolute bedlam as nearly ALL colonies were out and about looking for food and also defending their entrances from all the other colonies that were doing the same. (If I had done that in May when there was a flow on, the bees would have hardly noticed the super in the back of the truck).