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Wasps robbing - drastic action? Or let the colony go?

 
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sam_uk
House Bee


Joined: 19 Apr 2014
Posts: 12
Location: Bristol, United Kingdom

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 10:28 am    Post subject: Wasps robbing - drastic action? Or let the colony go? Reply with quote

Hi All

I have a cast swarm. in a Warre hive. They have been doing well for a month or so, taking in pollen, building up honey.

In the last few days they have been under serious wasp attack. 5-8 wasps visible in the hive through the observation window at any time.

I have already reduced the doorway to a single bee width.

Yesterday the bees were putting up a fight, but today the wasps seem to be coming and going as they please with little if any defence by the bees.

I'm thinking of opening the hive a crack, sliding in a saucer of honey and closing the hive completely for 24? 48? hours. I'm hoping this would give the bees a chance to re-group before re-opening the doorway.

What do you think? Worth a try? Or shall I just let them be eradicated?

I realise there is a slight risk of introducing parasites with honey, but I'm not that keen on feeding sugar..

Thanks

Sam
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1569
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

By feeding honey of unknown origin, you risk not only your bees but those that may subsequently come and rob them out. For the sake of a principle on your part, I would recommend you rethink that and use 1:1 syrup. As "natural" beekeepers we already have an unfounded stigma of propagating varros infestations. Lets not give the establishment genuine ammunition that we are a potential source of foul brood which is significantly more serious.

Personally, I would give them some help. It might be worth moving them as well as blocking them in for a few days with some feed. You could also fit a plastic screen across the front of the hive as well as keep it to one bee space to baffle wasps. A square of clear plastic from a food carton pinned over the hole with the bottom chocked out a quarter inch with a piece of wood or twig should do the job.

Good luck with them. I hope it's not too late.

Regards

Barbara
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you opt to close the hive make sure it is very well ventilated or in complete shade. Just mesh over the entrance may not be enough if it's sunny as the hive will have all the bees in.

I think I'd opt for moving it, especially if you have somewhere more than 3 miles away where they could "lodge" for a week.

As Barbara has said, avoid feeding honey other than from your own hive, at all costs! The risk is just too great. Sugar isn't the best food for the bees, but they will survive.
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Tavascarow
Silver Bee


Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 962
Location: UK Cornwall Snozzle

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Feeding is as likely to encourage more robbing as anything.
Swap the colony place with a stronger one?
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 259
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to be so negative but if you are seeing that number of wasps actually in the hive, I think you are already too late. By all means, give it a try with a minimum size entrance but you may just have to accept that hive is going to fade away.
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DrMartin
House Bee


Joined: 29 Jun 2015
Posts: 19
Location: Cambridge

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reduce entrance to one bee width and height and add ziplock bag of strong sugar solution to top under roof if it fits or somewhere inside if not and stick a few pin pricks in the bag. You'd be surprised how they can bounce back once you tip the balance away from the wasps. Feeding shouldn't encourage robbing if you don't spill any and there's a small entrance. Also varies by bee strain.

Another thing to try would be to concoct a robbing screen - lean a sheet or Perspex over the entrance or some branches. Or hang some/lots of wasp traps? Shutting the hive won't achieve much as the wasps will be back.

By putting bees in a box you have a responsibility to look after them and if you don't manage to stop a wasp attack and lots of bees die imagine how you'd feel. Similarly if bees starve or get foulbrood because you are philosophically opposed to sugar. I appreciate that feeding is a delicate balance with a warre as you don't want to be harvesting sugar but if the colony is on deaths door and you have something in the cupboard that could save them then why not?
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All good suggestions above which I would follow, especially moving them for a while. You could also try a wasp bait station with some sardines or cat food as bait to tip the balance further in the bee's favour.

Cheers
Rob.
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sam_uk
House Bee


Joined: 19 Apr 2014
Posts: 12
Location: Bristol, United Kingdom

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:37 am    Post subject: Thanks! Reply with quote

Hi all

Thanks for the really helpful replies.

I should have mentioned that I have already put out four wasp traps about 10m from the hive. I've also hung a DIY waspinator http://waspinator.co.uk/
in the nearby tree.

I can't think of anywhere I can move them at the moment unfortunately.

So on your advice I have fed a sugar solution and closed up the hive. I'm hoping that a couple of days without attack may give them a chance to build up strength and get re-organised.

I've put a coin between the two boxes so there is a small crack for ventilation & put a umbrella over the hive for shade.

I'll let you know how they get on..

Thanks

Sam
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sam_uk
House Bee


Joined: 19 Apr 2014
Posts: 12
Location: Bristol, United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I opened the doorway to the hive again today. The bees seem a bit more organised, they are defending the door and chucking out the dead bees and wasps.

The wasp numbers seem to be reduced, not sure if it's the traps or if they are just a less easy target.

I may feed them again or maybe just monitor and see how they get on.
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Lizbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 24 Mar 2012
Posts: 84
Location: UK, North East England, Hartlepool

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:22 pm    Post subject: Thanks for the update Reply with quote

Hi Sam
Glad to hear your bees are improving. They are pretty resilient; they just need a little help at times.
I have had a Waspinator and it did seem to work. Sadly it does not work on Blackbirds or Swallows which know where my two colonies are and visit regularly.
I have only been keeping bees for three years so feel very inexperienced at times.
Hope your girls continue to recover.
Best wishes, Lizbee
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Smorning
Foraging Bee


Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Posts: 150
Location: Faversham Kent UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wasps have been a problem in Kent as well as I cannot move my hives I just reduced down the entrances and combined weaker colonies to allow them to defend better. From my experience wasps attach weaker or queen less colonies you will see the evidence on the monitoring board. I like the idea of the screen will try this if I get a repeat performance. So far this year I have lost three hives to wasps the remaining 10 are too strong at the moment to be overcome fingers crossed.
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 582
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

See http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=112191#112191 for my thoughts.
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