Hum, I am not sure what is going on in our bee yard. It has been about 10 days since I last checked on the bees. I went down then to remove the bee escapes I put on too early. I remember taking somewhat of an inventory. We had at least four supers full of honey that were well on their way to being capped off, maybe 65% and at least three boxes full of uncapped honey.
I went down this morning to do a cursory check and see if it was time to put the bee escapes back on in anticipation of pulling more frames on Wednesday with Paula. I was a little dumbfounded to find what seems to be far less honey in the boxes, all of them. I was hoping to find the top boxes completely capped in which case I was going to put the bee escapes on just below the top boxes. Instead I found the boxes to be much lighter than they were 10 days ago. There are a few frames of capped honey in one or two of the boxes and some honey but nothing compared to what had been there.
Bees will try to rob honey from another hive. Robbing is usually seen in the spring before a nectar flow or in late summer with the nectar flow has ceased. When there isn't another source of nectar bees will look for other sources. Usually stronger hives will rob weaker hives.
What makes me really pause here is that I don't see any significant evidence of robbing behavior. There isn't a frenzy of fighting outside any of the hives. Wrestling at the entrance is a good give away but lack of fighting isn't proof that you don't have robbing going on. It could just mean the robbers have over come the guard bees. I have not found piles of dead bees in front of any hive, another indication a battle has taken place. Most importantly I don't see capped honey torn open, another telling sign. All our hives are strong but one. The strong hives all had plenty of honey, and it seems like the bloom is good which would mean reasonable nectar sources. I can't see any reason for the bees to go out scouting for alternative sources of honey. We do have a week hive, Mr. Abbott's Little Bee but there has never been any honey in that hive to begin with.
That being said we are down honey, no doubt about it. It is very puzzling. Of course we could have robbers coming in from another apiary, who knows. Bees can be very sneaky which is why I don't see much evidence of anything suspicious. I am going back with Paula on Wednesday and hopefully she will have some insight after she sees the situation. Until then, keep your fingers crossed that more honey doesn't disappear between now and then.