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Thread: Absconded!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,159

    Question Absconded!

    I have an owl house I removed for a customer this summer that I never got around to taking the bees out of. It was a large house with about six combs drawn on the outside.

    I'm not sure if it had swarmed or just dwindling, but it has been getting smaller lately. Tuesday afternoon I witnessed what looked like a swarm issue from it. I watched as it circled over the apiary and settled on an occupied hive and tried to move in. I saw the queen but was unable to catch her. The bees clustered on the front of the hive and were moving in the top entrance.

    That evening after I got home from work I saw a small cluster of about 20 bees on a dead queen.

    At dark I was able to see that there were no bees left in the bird house, all I could see moving in there was SHB. There was a patch of brood on three combs about five inches across but no bees and no SHB larva, very little pollen and no honey.

    I froze the house for 26 hours and then opened it up and shook out the SHB. There was only about 60 beetles in the hive.

    So, is that enough of an infestation to make the bees leave? Or ???

    On a side note, I got a call for a swarm today that was the size of a baseball. Too small and too far to go get, but could it be the same problem? Curious isn't it?
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,080

    Default

    BB,

    Do I think that bees, at the end of the year, "know" their odds are such that they will not make it through winter, for whatever reason? Do I think that bees will collectively decide to leave a hive and chance simulating into a hive or outright taking it over? Have I ever seen this myself?

    Yes.
    Yes.
    Yes.

    Sounds somewhat questionable on the surface. But AHB are quite good at insurptation. They do it on a justification level for genetic superiority. But maybe other aspects are at play to include saving resources and other matters. The fact that AHB will knowingly go out, seek another colony, and simulate into and take over the other colony proves it does happen. Do other type bees have this ability although perhaps not seen at the AHB levels? Perhaps non-AHB bees do this in extreme conditions for survival sake, where AHB has just tailored it along for other reasons.

    I know that I have clearly seen small clusters take off for reasons such as throwing out a second queen from a two queen colony. Seems some hives will tolerate a second queen most of the summer. But in fall, they choose one. I think the loser is kicked out, but is not killed by her colony. She leaves with a small cluster and through the power of genetic selection, mother nature dictates that she be given the chance to spread her successful genes, perhaps through trying to take over a weak or lesser strong genetic colony.

    I have seen bees also abscond in the fall on a much higher level than other times of the year. So do bees knowingly decide that their home is not going to work and they must leave due to disease, pest, etc.? I think it possible. And it seems only natural as nature works, that they at least attempt to save their genetics by perhaps taking over another colony. May not work all the time, but its goes in line with nature's selection process and survival of the fittest. And if one type bee has that insurptation ability as does the AHB, it only reasons to believe other bees may have it also, even if for different triggers and reasoning.

    I have clearly seen it, and know it does happen.
    Last edited by BjornBee; 10-02-2008 at 08:48 AM.

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