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Male Tanager Birds Picking Off Bees

Posted: Mon May 16, 2016 2:20 pm
by Margaret Wynne
Fellow Beekeepers,
I sat up two hives for the first time yesterday. Six-eight male tanager birds have been perched around the hives since early this morning and are snatching bees in flight at an alarming rate as they leave the hives. They even land on the bottom boards and peck in to the entrance reducer. These are exquisite yellow and red birds that have never visited my yard until I installed bees. I've attempted to scare them off, but they come right back...ideas?..... survival of the fittest?
Thanks for your ideas,
Margaret Wynne

Re: Male Tanager Birds Picking Off Bees

Posted: Tue May 17, 2016 1:07 pm
by kristinahoney
Hi Margaret,
Birds are crazy with rearing their young this time of year! You can put a protective chicken wire "bubble" over the front of the hive as you would for skunks. The wire bubble should be big enough that it's about a foot away from the front of the hive. It's easy to mold/shape that stuff. Use the larger size chicken wire, 1". Use rocks to hold it along the ground edge. You might not even need to staple it to the hive. The bees will be able to fly through it and will be flying fast enough to be at least a challenge for the tanagers.
Good luck!
Kristina Williams
Beehave LLC mentoring and hive support
Boulder, CO

Re: Male Tanager Birds Picking Off Bees

Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 12:11 pm
by Laura Tyler
Yes! We have seen this. While it's alarming to watch, in our experience the tanagers don't stick around long enough, or eat enough bees to compromise the overall health of your colony. They don't stay that long (maybe a week or three tops, I haven't kept notes). And yes, they do return from year to year.

Good luck and try to enjoy these birds if you can while they're around. I know it's tough when they're picking off bees, but they are interesting and beautiful to watch, aren't they?