Did I just see a mating flight?
I was on a big factory roof working when I saw some little shadows going by on the roof. I looked up and could see a swarm of insects about 5 feet above me flying in a straight line for a line of trees. My first reaction was a swarm and I looked in the treeline for them. The more I thought about it they were not circling they were in a straight line.
Unless you noticed the majority were drones, I vote with EKW on this. Swarms only circle where they issue and where they stop. In-between they fly predominantly straight.
Interesting and ty. I have only seen swarms at the hive leaving or gathering on a nearby limb a few yard from the original hive.
It happened so quick I can not say for sure if they were drones but it was the shadows of the bees the alerted me they were there. They seemed large. And it seem to be very small amount of bees in the air.
It was exciting none the less.
Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens
I’ve followed swarms and is appears to me that they circle as the swarm moves. Research has shown that only 5% of the bees in the swarm actually know where they should be going, and they lead the swarm by streaking through the swarm as it fly’s. Although, I have seen swarms travel in a straight line only when the new nest site is located within a very short distance, predominantly, they appear to circle, with streakers flying through the swarm. Had a swarm travel in a straight line, I would suspect that it would be impossible for streakers to circle through the swarm to lead it, as they would have to fly twice as fast.
"The organized movement of a swarm of honeybees towards its new home is a perplexing phenomenon because only a small number of scout bees, approximately 5%, know the direction in which the swarm has to move. Nevertheless, in the majority of cases a swarm, comprising about 10 000 mainly uninformed bees, reaches the new home. How do the scouts transfer directional information en route to the uninformed bees? We investigated a hypothesis proposed in the 1950s that suggests that scout bees fly rapidly through the airborne swarm, pointing towards the new home. We developed a model that simulates the movement of swarms and scouts and showed that when scouts fly through the swarm at a speed slightly higher than the speed of the other (uninformed) bees, they are indeed able to direct the swarm towards its new home. Hence, our model strongly supports the proposed hypothesis and shows that a collection of uninformed bees can be successfully guided by the purposeful movements of a small number of informed scouts."
I suppose I should have been less obtuse. Most swarms I've observed travel as if they were a fast moving cloud with a purpose, headed in a particular direction. In my present location I've witnessed dozens of swarms flying across my property from West to East, once in awhile I've watched them coalesce on objects near my apiary. Some have even landed on empty supers, then entered and set up house. What I mean is that I hadn't seen any swarms make any obvious changes of direction while I was able to observe them - they followed a fairly direct path towards their destination(s) and stayed very near to the ground. It seems difficult, without additional input from Show-me, to make a guess with any great veracity.
I will just add that these bees were traveling in a Bee-line straight south for a fence row tree line and there was open ground on the other side for several hundred yards.
Seems like they knew where they were going or was chasing a pretty lady.