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Enemies of Bees: How to Protect Your Hives

People love to eat sweet honey fresh from the hive, but there are some pesky animals who love to eat bees fresh from the hive! Here is a list of animals to be on the lookout for:

Skunks

These stinky critters love to eat insects, and what could be better than an insect covered in honey? A sign that skunks may be eating your bees is scratch marks on the hive near the entrance. Skunks will scratch the hive until guard bees come out to investigate and then they gobble up the guards. Another sign that you may have a skunk problem is your bees are angry and difficult to work with.

How to deal with skunks: Elevate your hive on a stand of some sort. This will then require skunks to stand on their hind legs to scratch the hive, exposing their underbelly, which is unprotected. Honey Bees will be able to sting the skunk on its belly as it tries to eat the bees. Skunks don’t like to be stung on their bellies so they learn to leave that hive alone.

Raccoons

These masked creatures are smart! They can easily learn to lift the lid off of hives and begin eating what’s inside.

How to deal with Raccoons: Placing a heavy rock or bricks on your lid will discourage would-be-raccoon-thieves from breaking into your hive.

Bears

Isn’t it funny how a bear likes honey? Buzz Buzz Buzz-I wonder why he does. Not only do bears like honey, they like honey bee brood too! If a bear catches whiff of your honey bee hives, the result could be disastrous as bears are smart and strong and love to come back for seconds.

How to deal with bears: Bears can easily climb most regular fences. The most effective defense for your hives from bears is an electric fence

Insects

There are several variety of insects to watch out for that could be a significant threat to your bees:

Hive Beetle: A relatively new threat to US Honey Bees, the small hive beetle was discovered in 1998. They have since become a real danger to bees. They enter bee hives and eat everything in sight—wax, pollen and nectar stores--even brood. They defecate inside the hives, causing the honey stores to ferment and go bad. Get rid of these nuisances as soon as you see sign of them.

How to deal with Hive Beetles: You can use a Beetle Blaster Trap to capture these harmful pests and get rid of your small hive beetle problem quickly and effectively.

Ants: like bees, ants need proteins and sugars to survive and will take advantage of nearby hives stocked with fresh stores of pollen and honey. If enough ants invade the bees’ home, the bees will abscond away. If you notice ants entering your hives, take steps to control the situation before it gets too serious.

How to deal with Ants: Place your hive on a stand with legs. Place the legs of the stand in a large coffee can filled with oil or water. This creates a moat around the stand legs and prevents the ants from climbing up the legs and into the hive. Ants also are repulsed by cinnamon.  Try Sprinkling cinnamon on the ground around your hives. Be sure to sprinkle some on inner cover too. It’s important to be mindful that cinnamon washes away in wet weather, so reapply more cinnamon after rain.

Wasps- Wasps will invade your hives and eat the hive’s honey, brood, and bees. If you’ve never seen invading wasps, they are brutal-- viscously tearing off bees’ wings and legs to feast on their juicy abdomens. In the spring and summer wasps are mainly looking to eat bees for the protein. In the early fall they are hoping to rob the honey stores.

How to deal with Wasps: If you find a lone wasp in the winter it is a queen wasp. Killing Wasp queens in the winter before she lays her eggs in the spring is equivalent to killing up to 3000 wasps! In the spring and summer you can hang up Wasp/Yellow Jacket traps. You can place these near your hives. They will attract and trap the wasps but not your honey bees. Placing an entrance reducer limits the entrance opening, allowing the bees to better guard the hive from marauding wasps.

Although honey bees are equipped with stingers to protect themselves, they sometimes need a little extra help to survive. By being alert and paying attention to what is going on in and around your hives, you can keep your bees healthy and thriving and safe from harm.

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