The apiary does not represent a normal condition of life for bees and since the beekeeper forces them to live in close proximity, a mechanism is triggered that pushes the bees of a beehive to plunder the supplies of another family. This occurs in times of low harvest and towards weaker families who are unable to defend themselves; often it is the beekeeper to trigger this process through the opening of the hive, nutrition, etc ...
A particular type of looting called "latent" occurs when the bees do not attack the colony en masse but take away supplies a little at a time, the cause is attributable to other openings such as the bottom disconnected from the flight door.
When, on the other hand, the looting is of a violent type and the bees attack en masse those of another family, ruthless struggles take place on the running board that induce the hive stricken to starve.
In these cases the remedy lies in moving the hive victim of the looting more than 3 km away or reversing the position of the attacking family with the attacked one; to identify the looting family, the attacked family is sprinkled with flour and bees are observed in which hive they fall. When, on the other hand, the looting is extended to several families, to cause an immediate arrest, one acts by uncovering all the hives in order to also induce the looting bees to remain in their own. Another measure is to reduce the size of the flight doors of the attacked hives to a minimum.
Fundamental is the prevention of looting where it is necessary:
- feed in the evening rather than during the day,
- cease visits to the first signs of looting,
- never leave the hives open too long especially in times of famine,
- do not scroll honeycombs containing immature honey,
- do not leave honeycombs or other material containing honey near the apiary.