I am arranging 16 beehives permanently on a truck flatbed (8'X12'). Two rows of eight hives face each other towards the center, seperated by a 45" wide walkway down the middle. Hives are on two hive pallets, all spaced seperated by 5/8", with a seperator board between each hives. Hives are painted one of four different colors, yellow, brown, grey or green. The hives will have a number (1 - 16)on their front, so that is another way the bees can find their own hives.
As I am not sure that bees can read address numbers, and easily differentiate colors, I am seeking ideas on what to mark on the walkway to furthur help the bees find their own hive and minimize drifting. The walkway is coverd with three pieces of plywood. Some ideas that I have had are:
each piece of plywood a different color,
different color gyometric shapes on the walkway,
some kind of runway lines like as on the Nazca Plain.
Any other suggestions ?
It's true it's helpful for them to be able to recognize their hive because it saves wondering around, but I don't think this is the cause of drifting. They drift because another hive is stronger or doing better. Anyway, they tell them apart by smell and they can always tell.
If you want them to have an easier time, mine seem to find them by location. e.g. theirs is the third hive from the left. This is obvious because I could move a hive a from the one end to the other end and confuse every single hive. Or I could remove one hive and confuse several hives. I think they will find the right hive easily as long as it's position relative to the other hives stays the same. Bees also use landmarks like a small tree or bush as references. Maybe if you put a forked branch in front of one, a straight up dowel in front of one etc. it would help. Maybe just one forked branch in the middle would give them a landmark.
Frankly I don't think it matters.