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When the nectar flow in your area stops (here in Virginia it happens mid-late June), the honey bees will commence the robbing. With limited wild nectar to harvest, they will try to find food wherever they can. Attracted to the smell of honey and sugar syrup coming from other hives, honey bees will become like little Genghis Khans testing the weaknesses of their neighboring colonies. If your hive can’t fend off the initial robber scout bees, word will get out and soon there will be a robbing frenzy at your hive. It will look like a WWE Royal Rumble match at the front of your hive.
Some people wrongly assume that if they have only one hive in their yard, robbing will not be a problem. However, with the rise in backyard beekeepers, there will certainly be other hives within a 3 mile radius of your hive. The 3 mile radius is the range in which honey bees will explore to find food sources.
How Robber Screens Work
Robber bees prefer to fly directly into its target hive without landing to avoid being harassed by the guard bees. The robber screens prevent this from happening. The robber bee has to land on the screen and make its way around to the entrance holes. This gives your guard bees more time to defend and forces robber bees to try and enter a narrow gauntlet where guard bees are waiting. Robber screens should cover the end of your entrances by at least 3/4″ to be effective.
We here at Wild Bunch Bees will give you enough 1/8″ gauge galvanized hardware cloth to make robber screens, cover ventilation points, and have enough leftover to use however you want. Hardware cloth is to beekeepers as caulk is to home builders – it can be used for lots of purposes. If you find you need more 1/8″ hardware cloth, you can buy more here.