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  1. #1
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    Question

    On a recent sunny winter day, I watched several bees leave their hive entrance, fly in crazy loops and spirals, and then fly (crash) into the snow on the ground a few feet in front of the hive. Sometimes they would be able to take off and do it again, but eventually they cooled off and died.

    Any ideas what could cause this behavior?

    [size="1"][ December 16, 2005, 09:38 PM: Message edited by: Patrick Scannell ][/size]

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    Perhaps it is just old dieing bees that are vacating themselves from the hive on a warm spell, just as they do any other time in the year.

    My indoor hives do the same thing, especially before christmas. But there is not temp difference, or light 24hours a day. Why do they fly out on the floor? My guess, the same reason out door hives wintered bees do,
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the links from Bee-L. The confused by the reflection theory fits.

    We had freezing rain yesterday, and have a smooth, hard, icy crust on the snow today. I saw several more bees flying along the crust upside-down, very much like they would along a window pane.

  5. #5
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    On one hand bees are tremendous works of nature. It is mind boggling what they are capable of. On the other hand they are insects. That in itself explains alot.

    Could be...
    old bees leaving the hive in the last act of unselfish behavior.

    Bees being fooled by the entrance temp and then flying into the much older air.

    Sick or disoriented bees. Those with t-mite or other viral/bacterial issues.

    Just some bees having a stupid gene. Its not like humans don't have a few of those....

    It is something that happens all the time, and is nothing to be concerned with on a small scale.

    I have placed bees in my hands that were dying at the feeding station in cold weather. After a few minutes, they warm themselves, clean themselves, and fly off back to the hive. Sometimes I think they just push the envelope to the point that they cross over to the point of no return. I can see the bees at the entrance asking each other who's going first....Theres always a few to jump at the challenge.

  6. #6
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    It seems like a shame when the bees just can not make it back to the hive. However the possibility of a defication flight after weeks or months must be an awesome urge!!!
    "Younz" have a great day, I will.

  7. #7
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    I do seem to find more dead bees in the snow immediately after a fresh snowfall than are normally seen in old snow. FWIW

  8. #8
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    >I saw several more bees flying along the crust upside-down...

    Well, what was written on Bee-L is something I "parrotted" from Eva Crane's Book 'Bees and Beekeeping'. She does give some references in the bibliography. Who knows really. As Ian and BjornBee point out, it could very well be just old bees. But when you watch them fly upside down and actually fly (and not fall) directly into the snow, it makes you wonder about that business of how we think a bee "sees". Do they really see static scenes as we do except for theirs being slightly distorted as the BeeEye shows?

    [size="1"][ December 18, 2005, 01:35 AM: Message edited by: Dick Allen ][/size]

  9. #9
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    On the other hand they are insects.
    Beekeepers seem to lose sight of that fact, don't they?

    "Although it is often more appealing to believe that bees are somehow special, honey bees are simply insects. Careful study of the literature reveals that many insects behave and function in the manner of honey bees [ ....etc.,.... etc.,.... ] So we must ultimately conclude that physiologically, behaviorally, and biochemically honey bees are just insects, remembering, of course, that insects themselves are quite remarkable."

    ---Eric H. Erickson, Jr.

  10. #10
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    Sometimes it si best just to leave alone and see what happens, insead of trying to solve the "problem" at hand.

    They seem to sort things out themselves just fine, year after year. They have experienced snow before.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  11. #11
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    Thanks for all the help.

    I'm not trying to solve a problem, other than to correctly interpret what I'm seeing. I'm just trying to become a better observer of bees. If suicide by crashing into snow was a classic symptom of inadequate ventilation, (or something) then that would be good to know.

    These bees did not look like old dying bees (frayed wings, weak flight). They looked like strong healthy bees that were disoriented and confused, and I can relate to that.

    My take-home message is it that it is an interesting thing about bees that requires no action or concern.

    Out of curiousity; has anyone heard of it happening over water?

  12. #12
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    Patrick Scannell--good question, could that be one of the reasons for so many bees floating in the neighbors swimming pool?
    "Younz" have a great day, I will.

  13. #13
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    >My take-home message is it that it is an interesting thing about bees that requires no action or concern.

    Correct.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
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    >Out of curiousity; has anyone heard of it happening over water?

    Most people know light coming from the sky is largely polarized and that bees can detect and use it find their way around. Light reflected off a body water is also polarized. But unless a bee is flying over the middle of a very large body of water, and it seems to me there’d be no reason for it to do so, it probably shouldn’t happen. Something like a swimming pool is another matter, but a pool is small enough and there is enough land around it that a bee should very easily find its way. Bees in the pool are there for the water (and maybe it’s chemicals), but then the poor little critters end up drowning.

  15. #15
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    When bee-lining, I have found that bees will
    consistently go around larger lakes rather
    than fly across the water. I've seen this
    locally when around Smith Mountain Lake, VA
    which is 32 square miles of water.

    They will go across narrow inlets in the
    lake, so their rule has to be something
    like "If you can see the other side clearly,
    go for it."

    As far as the "snow-blinded" bees go, I will
    make up some very tiny sunglasses and see
    if they help matters.

    With swimming pools, what I've typically seen
    is bees landing on the side walls of the pool,
    climbing down to get to the water, and being
    knocked off the wall by minor waves and ripples
    in the pool surface.

  16. #16
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    <As far as the "snow-blinded" bees go>

    That might bee it. Could these bees bee blind?

    Hawk
    KC0YXI

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