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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    192

    Default Why a lot of orientation flights, suddenly?

    Looking at one of my hives yesterday, there were lots of orientation flights going on. The other hive was relatively quiet. Why?

    Let me give some details. It was a warm, sunny day. The busy hive holds a swarm that I captured 9 days ago. It is a TBH. They have been building comb like crazy, but there is obviously no brood hatching yet. It is equally obvious that since this is a captured swarm, all the bees have been out flying at least once. The second TBH has a much bigger swarm that has been hived for just 4 days.

    I have a few sort of related theories. One is that the bees feel like they have built enough comb to meet their immediate needs and now they need to fill those combs with honey and pollen, so they are switching from comb building to foraging.

    The second theory is that brood is capped, and there is less work for the bees to do inside the hive, so they are foraging.

    The third theory is that the big honey flow is over from the fruit trees and they need more foragers to provide food for the colony.

    My favorite theory is the first one. The second theory seems unlikely because there should be just as much brood to cap tomorrow as there was today and yesterday. The third theory is OK, although I think the main honey flow continued well into May in my area usually.

    Anybody have any other ideas or can you tell me if any of my theories are correct?

    Ted

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: Why a lot of orientation flights, suddenly?

    I can't confirm any of your theories Ted.
    I can say that my two packages that I installed on the 5th are doing what you describe also.
    In the afternoon, they come out for what looks like orientation flights. It only happens for a few
    minutes, and then everyone's back inside or back to the regular traffic coming and going.
    I think they're just out for "break time" and stretching their wings, so to speak.
    This happened last spring with the packages I started too.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: Why a lot of orientation flights, suddenly?

    Is this what's going on?
    When we get packages or swarms, we also get younger bees too.
    They're still gonna have the same instinct to orient as if they never
    left the old hive as they mature to the different jobs they do in the
    hive. The younger bees with the package/swarm didn't get to take
    orientation flights before we dumped them in the hive.
    They're doing it now.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Why a lot of orientation flights, suddenly?

    I have swarms. All of the bees flew from their original hive. I don't know what ages they were, but it is probably a mix. Once in the new hive, there were many orientation flights on the first day, because none of the bees knew where they were, so all foragers had to do orientation flights. For a week, there were relatively few orientation flights, then suddenly I saw a whole bunch.

    I don't monitor the hive 24 hours a day, of course, so it could be just coincidence that I saw this yesterday, or it could have something to do with the hive condition. Even older bees can probably stay in the hive to perform nurse functions if need be, and I suspect this happens in a swarm. So at some point, maybe they have enough comb, or they are getting hungry and more bees who were busy inside the hive start coming out.

    With a package it is a little different, because they were not a swarm, and never got ready to leave the hive. I am sure you got young bees and old bees, but I suspect the ratios may be different from a swarm. I would guess fewer young bees and more older bees, but that is just a guess. In either case, there are no new bees yet in my hive, they haven't been in there long enough, so the bees I see doing orientations are still the original bees I put into the hive. Maybe enough of the older foragers that started with the swarm have died that they decided to send out more new foragers.

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