Robbing in November? #816862

Asked November 23, 2022, 2:44 PM EST

As you know it is a balmy 55 degrees on 23 Nov 22. There is so much activity in my backyard, I thought there were a few cleansing flights, but now it looks like a spring day with bees going back and forth. There are also bees crawling on the hive as if they are lost. I am wondering if my hives are being robbed and if I should put a sheet over them or something. Thanks in advance for your advice!

Oakland County Michigan

Expert Response

Hi Andrea,

Thanks for reaching out. I'm not surprised that bees are out flying and searching for food in warmer temperatures.

I can't tell from the photo if your hives are being robbed, but here is a good article on What Robbing Looks Like – Bee Informed Partnership.

The bees that are crawling outside of the hive and acting as if they are lost makes me wonder about the possibility of tracheal mites. Here is some information:

Beekeepers can submit samples of adult bees to the USDA ARS Lab in Beltsville for disease diagnosis. I emailed them to ask if they will look for tracheal mites in samples of adult bees, but the main contact is out of the office until Monday. You could try collecting some adult bees using these instructions: How to Submit Samples : USDA ARS. I'll let you know what I hear back from the lab.

Ana Heck Replied November 23, 2022, 2:59 PM EST

Hi Andrea,

I heard from Samuel Abbans from USDA Bee Disease Diagnostics Services:

Hi Ana,

We no longer conduct routine testing for tracheal mites but I will test 1-2 samples on a case-by-case bases. If a state apiarist has inspected the hive and found no other case of distress in the hive, and/or gross symptoms have been observed by the beekeeper. If any of these criteria have been met, a sample can be submitted according to the instructions we have provide.


Samuel K. Abban

Biological Science Tech

USDA-ARS-Bee Research Lab

10300 Baltimore Ave.

BARC-E, Bldg. 306, Rm. 317

Beltsville, MD 20705

PH:<personal data hidden>

Email: <personal data hidden>

Website: Bee Disease Diagnostics Services

Ana Heck Replied November 28, 2022, 2:27 PM EST

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