Robbing Screen – How to Stop Wasps and Bees Robbing Your Bee Hives

Beekeeping Equipment – Integrated Pest Management Program

Have you recently bought a ‘Robbing Screen’ from kiwimana?…if so, this guide is just for you!

The robbing-screen took a few years of field-testing in the Apiary at kiwimana HQ. Also inspired from ideas on the interwebs. Gary designed this to help us with Wasps which were causing loss of colonies within a matter of a few days …which is pretty devastating after all the work we put in to our colonies. Please note: Entrance Reduction is not the same method as using a Robbing-Screen (see more further on in this article about entrance reduction.)

…if not, this article will explain how one of these will be useful to you and your colonies.So what is a ‘Robbing Screen’ ? A robbing-screen is a screen which can be placed in the front of the honey beehive entrance – Its purpose is to help save your colonies from Robbing Bees and Wasps ! The robbing-screen frame is made from wood (pine). The robbing-screen has an insect mesh securely-inserted within the frame of the robbing screen. The frame has two circle hooks onto which a bungee cord is attached around the hive-box to hold the robbing-screen in-place. (Our current robbing screens have a 90cm orange-bungee cord.)

This screen has a stainless steel mesh
This screen has a stainless steel mesh
Robbing screen attached to hive box with bungy
Robbing screen attached to hive box with bungy
Wide Access gives perfect Bee Space Bungy-Cord to hold in place
Wide Access gives perfect Bee Space Bungee-Cord to hold in place

What is the robbing-screen used for ?

The robbing-screen is designed to give the Honey Bees a ‘fenced-area’ which, from within, the guard bees use to define their ‘patrol-area’ the ‘hive-box perimeter’. The worker bees can use it as a resting area and a drop-off pollen zone. This is the first-line of defence and an ‘****Entrance Reducer’ can be the girls second-line of defence. A robbing-screen is very different from entrance-reduction – see more further-on in this article.

How does it work ? What we found in our field-tests, is that the ‘fenced-area’ is propolised by the guard bees. We understand that this method used by the girls is so that the guard bees define their ‘patrol area’ or the ‘perimeter’ and they appear to understand it is part of the hive.

Why do the bees propolis it, you ask ? We established that by using the propolis, they were making it smell of the scent of the colony whilst also disinfecting. What we saw is that within the screened area, if anything enters and DOES NOT smell like the colony – its ATTACKED !! Handy Hint: To make sure the girls can properly ‘scent’ the screen we leave the screens un-painted / Unoiled

Older Robbing-Screen natural wood
Older Robbing-Screen natural wood

NOTE: It’s important to be patient with your girls when a robbing-screen is introduced because it does take them a few weeks to recognise it, then to ‘scent’ it with propolis, whilst also allowing the guard bees time to work out the perimeter from where the propolis scent has been added.

When should I put the robbing-screen on? Basically, we use our robbing screens all year round. It’s important to understand that the robbing-screen has several functions and also relies on your observations for ‘proper use’.

What we found is that the bees needed more protection from wasps in Autumn early Spring, so its designed to have two opening sizes with 3 functions. We found that at the end of Summer, robbing-bees are a threat and coincidently, AFB does appear at this time of the year. We think that perhaps there maybe a link with reducing the risk of AFB transference when using a robbing-screen, we think – and please know that we don’t have any scientific research to back this up – that the robbing-screen may well help in stopping that transference of spores straight into the hive through the application the propolis within the screened-area which also makes it difficult for robbing-bees to get direct access into the hive.

Handy Hint: tangent…. By leaving your girls with plenty of honey, it may also help them with focusing on foraging, not robbing!!

What are the functions of our Robbing Screen?

Function 1 – Wide Access

This is the wide access - this is placed against the wall of the hive-box
This is the wide access – this is placed against the wall of the hive-box

Function 2 – Small Access

By rotating the screen you create the small access

Function 3 – Closed Access / Exit

Closed access for moving a Beehive or for heavy attack
Closed access for moving a Beehive or for heavy attack

Why Has It Got a Plastic Cover Thingie?

This ‘cover’ is so that you can close off the screened area for HIGH-RISK periods of robbing and wasp attack we call this – the Small-Access. It can also be used to close-off access to the bees while moving the beehive without them overheating the colony while moving/travelling – less stress for the girls – we call this CLOSED Access (Function 3). See photo of hive below all ratchet-tied, access closed ready for transporting to new apiary. (still has its corflute A-Frame rain cover)

Robbing Screen attached and CLOSED Access
Robbing Screen attached and CLOSED Access

What Are the Hook Roundie Thingies Used for ?

These are for the bungy end-hooks to go into when attaching the robbing-screen to the hive. One for each side to hold the robbing-screen on in case of wind or disturbance.

When do I use the different ‘functions’ ?

Function 1 – Wide Access

This function used when the population is at its highest – After Spring treatments are completed (start treating 1st August and if it’s a 4 week treatment aim to open to wide -access by 1st September in preparation for Spring populations build-up)

Function 2 – Small Access

This function at high-risk periods when robbing-bees are about and wasps are building-up their queens. – When end of Summer treatments are being done ( start treating 1st February and if it’s a four week treatment aim to open to small-access from there through Winter to the end of August.

Function 3 – Closed entrance – for Extreme Risk and for moving the beehive.

This function closes off the access to leave but still allows bees to patrol the perimeter or gather outside of hive to aerate the hive. Note: ….if you want to paint your robbing-screen – to match your hive-boxes, only paint areas where the screen touches the hivebox / bottom-board.

When do I NOT use the Robbing-Screen ?

At kiwimana we pre-empt swarming by splitting our colonies, this means we can keep our older genetics. Important – There will be TWO colonies once the split has been made – both need DIFFERENT management through the SPLIT period: – OLD Original Queen = OLDER QUEEN COLONY – New colony = NEW SEASON QUEEN COLONY

Background: Older Queen Colony is moved away – she’ll thinks she has swarmed

Make sure her entrance is on the SMALL ACCESS for 16 days, while she gets on with laying and re-building her Bee-population. On-going fortnightly inspections should take place after the 16 Days – normal hive-management resumes ie: checking space for laying, nectar flow checks, adding hive-ware, Varroa monitoring, etc. Important – do not treat until 30 days after the split has taken place.

New Season Queen Colony

Remains in the original spot ( or existing position ) – this allows foraging bees to return here to keep the colony population-up, fed and warm. So for this NEW SEASON QUEEN COLONY – when we split, we leave the robbing-screen on the SMALL ACCESS for 16 Days after the 24 hour move to enable the Queen-cell to be built. Then on the 17th day she hatches and is ready to mate, so we remove the robbing-screen completely for 12 days – as it takes about 10-12 days for her to go out and mate on-the-wing.

Why do I need to do this for this NEW QUEEN COLONY ? – The reasoning is that the new-season queen can move out easily to go on her MATING FLIGHT and then easily return without obstruction.

Note: If the weather is bad, wet, windy removing the robbing-screen for her to return safely straight into the entrance is key. On the 30th Day – add the robbing-screen back on with the SMALL ACCESS and then undertake an inspection to check for the NEW SEASON QUEEN and that she is laying, all things beeing equal the colony is on its way so normal hive-management resumes ie: checking space for laying, nectar flow checks, adding hive-ware, etc. Important – do not treat this colony – treating will interfere with the pheromone of the NEW Queen taking-hold of the colony – there has already been a break in the Varroa breeding cycle because the colony has had no eggs for approximately 30 days.

ENTRANCE REDUCTION (Reduced entrance)

What does this mean ? This method has been long-used by beekeepers for reducing the entrance width, usually it has been applied to the hives in Winter when the cluster or population becomes smaller therefore guard bee population also declines.

Why ? With the cold or wet, the guard bees will also stay longer with the cluster and the entrance is often less of a focus for the girls – at these times the goal of the girls is to protect the queen and the brood and bee part of the cluster.

Reducing the hive entrance still enables Robbing Bees and Wasps to get straight in to the hive

SADLY and Unfortunately the entrance reduction will still enable whatever threat to get straight into the hive, it has not proved successful for us and by following this advice we still lost colonies despite reducing entrance size.

****OUR ANSWER to entrance reduction ?

The design and building of the robbing-screen! Handy to know that …you can still ‘entrance reduce’ behind the robbing-screen if you feel you need to.


Point to remember – is that WASP’s generally hunt early morning or early evening because that’s when the Honey Bee is generally within cluster within the hive. Guard bees are usually still with the cluster so the entrance is more vulnerable to penetration. If there is no protection at the entrance the wasps can go straight-in. …remember… entrance-reduction still enables the wasp to get straight into the hive with a robbing-screen it at least gives the girls that good-line of defence. Other way to get-rid… ..locating the WASP’s nest and killing it, is one of the other ways to help your honey bee colonies.


Its really helpful to observe what is going-on at the entrance of your hive, because it tells many tales, and what tales are beeing told ? …well, you can see if Bees are… – fighting = robbing – if the wasps are attacking = they are hungry and raising wasp-queens – dead bees = varroa or wasps or disease, over-heating – bearding = overheating – mating flight = small cluster out front = Spring queen flights – large quantity of hovering bees with louder buzz = preparing to swarm/swarming – angry bees attacking when you are in the front of the hive = thirsty bees or lost their queen – going back and forth on the bottom-board = bee hygiene activity (referred to as ‘wash-boarding’) Well, we hope that you find this as ‘INFORMATION GOLD’, and that it helps you with managing your colony/ies.

This article was put together by Margaret, especially for you.

12 thoughts on “Robbing Screen – How to Stop Wasps and Bees Robbing Your Bee Hives

  1. Avatar photo
    Andrew Le Barron says:

    Can I buy one of those wasp guard tgingys pleas. I cannot see them in your shop. If you could help I would appreciate it. Cheers

    • Avatar photo
      Gary Fawcett says:

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Sorry we are sold out at present, we will be making some over the winter season.

      Add you name to waiting list on the product page HERE, and we will email you as soon as we have stock back.


  2. Avatar photo
    Martin Hudson says:


    My National hive in North London is being plagued by wasps getting in. I have tried to find a robbing screen to fit a BS National hive brood box entrance, but can only find suggestions where the front of the hive is flat. Can you help? Please e-mail me to advise.

    • Avatar photo
      Gary Fawcett says:

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks for the message, Sorry for the slow response.

      We attached our robbing screens with a bungie cord, I would have thought something like that could be done. Perhaps you can email us a picture of the front and I will get back to you.

      Our address info at


    • Avatar photo
      Beeeees says:

      I just lost a hive sometime during the day to wasps. I generally check in the morning and late afternoon because the girls are home.

      They were fine this morning but.. When I checked just before dinner the entire hive was empty of bees and filled mostly with wasps…

      I made entrance reducers a few weeks ago and they really helped a lot… Unfortunately they didn’t help enough. I’m going to make some of these robbing screens and see if they make a difference, because im really oubout losing hive 7.

      Its a bit of a shock considering it was my biggest and strongest hive…

      • Avatar photo
        Margaret Groot says:

        We are sorry to hear of your loss, it’s never easy to lose hives when we have put so much effort in. In our experience wasps are actually a result of something failing before the wasps turn up. We have found that hives were already experiencing decline which we failed to pick up, in most cases the failure was due to sickness caused by the Varroa Destructor mite in the weeks before. The buzziness of the hive may well possibly have been robbing bees. What we do when a hive fails is we go through and analyse what is left which helps prevent future failure…. but in this instance your bees could have suddenly absconded due to the wasp threat. We love our robbing-screens and we use them on our hives year-round, just remember that just putting them on when there is a threat is usually too late. The bees will consider the robbing-screen part of the hive and will propolise it so that it will have the scent of the hive so removing it will undermine the efficiency, but it’s important to note that you will have to adjust the screens relevant to the different seasons and hive population. Thanks for sharing your comment. All the best.

  3. Avatar photo
    Roger van der Zanden says:

    Hi There,

    Been following Kiwimana for a while and have a question re splits – is there any reason after you have created a new box and shifted the old queen to one side why you can’t just put abated queen in and get her on the job straight away?

    Cheers Roger

    • Avatar photo
      Margaret Groot says:

      Hi Roger, Thanks for your email. The colony raising the new season queen needs the foragers to keep the colony building and collecting food. The old queen is moved away so she thinks she has swarmed – she needs more capped-brood which will hatch which replaces the foragers lost in the split will be replaced in a couple of weeks – thats why the old queen colony is quiet for a couple of weeks. She will carry on as usual as long as she is given comb to lay in and she will get more laying space as the capped brood hatches. I hope I have captured your answer. Let us know if we haven’t been clear. Thanks Roger. Regards, Margaret and Gary…it’s the kiwimana buzz…

  4. Avatar photo
    Darr247 says:

    Good stuff… thanks!

    The apiculture curious who’ve found this source on the internet should note it’s located south of the equator, so adapting its seasonal schedules to the north would mean adding (or subtracting) 6 months from the time lines… i.e. September in Oceania would change to March in US/Canada/Eur-Asia, et cetera.

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