After the recent discussion of robbing bees, beekeeper Kenneth Rhodes sent in the following photos of bees from one of his hives attempting to rob the other. They provide an excellent illustration of robbing in action.
Because robbing bees are unfamiliar with the hive they are stealing from, they try to enter at the point where they detect the scent. In the hives below, the robbing bees are clustered at the intersection between the brood box and inner cover. This makes sense because the airflow through a hive is “in through the bottom, out through the top.” Consequently, the smell of honey and/or syrup is coming out the top along with the warm air.
Robbing bees on a mission to take whatever they can get
In this case, there is also a small cluster at the bottom where Kenneth says he used an entrance feeder that leaked out of the corner. This hive had been decimated by yellowjackets and he was trying to build it back up with syrup when the robbing incident occurred. Because the mouth of an entrance feeder is close to the hive opening, they are famous for starting robbing frenzies, especially during a nectar dearth.
Thanks so much for the photos, Ken. This is a case where a picture is worth a thousand words.