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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Adelaide, Australia
    Posts
    4

    Default Orientation flight? Swarm? New beek needs advice!

    Hi All

    Im a new beek, and installed my bees 3 weeks ago from a 4 frame nuc, had a quick check last week and they have filled half a frame with comb and seem very busy collecting, but what I have noticed is that around 4:30pm most days, there is a fairly large group of bees flying around the hive or gathering on the hive, around the entrance.

    Is this just young bees testing out their wings or possibly a swarm getting ready to split the hive? They all seem to fly about for 5-10 minutes and then head back in for the night?

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,659

    Default Re: Orientation flight? Swarm? New beek needs advice!

    This seems to be normal where I live. My bees do hover around outside the hive and then go back inside. You will see some bees just fly straight inside without taking any time out. The ones who carry the pollens will not hang around much. They are in a hurry to deposit the pollens. If there is enough sunlight and the flower source is close by they will make another round before the sunset. Otherwise they will just hang out side for awhile and then call it a night. I have seen this happen around the time you mentioned. All my bees will go inside almost every night 2 hours before the sunset. If a large number of bees not want to go inside then something is wrong inside your hive. Also, make sure the hive entrance is big and wide enough so they are not waiting in line to go inside the hive. This will reduce some traffic congestion if there is any. Sometimes if the weather is too hot they will not go inside that fast either. Make sure they have enough room inside the hive to expand more if they are overcrowded. Other than that, over all it is a normal thing to me when you have a strong and healthy hive. They will not wait long to go inside see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDPvpVoiIdQ

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,335

    Default Re: Orientation flight? Swarm? New beek needs advice!

    That question gets asked several times in the season, here on the forums. But, of course, your season is out of sync with ours.
    The literature calls it "play flights." Newly-emerged brood fly around, close-in, keeping the entry in sight. They may be as you say, just testing their flight ability.

    One thing is certain. It serves some purpose. Bees don't waste energy. We just don't know what that purpose is. For location orientation, they will swoop around from 5 to 20 yards out to get a fix on home. So I wouln't call it orientation. My guess is that they are charging their system with oxegen to prepare to work in the rarified atmosphere of the broodnest. Your guess might be better than mine.

    Walt

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,659

    Default Re: Orientation flight? Swarm? New beek needs advice!

    ...........oops
    Last edited by beepro; 02-12-2013 at 02:28 AM. Reason: repost

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,536

    Default Re: Orientation flight? Swarm? New beek needs advice!

    Videos will help a lot to determine what's up.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,869

    Default Re: Orientation flight? Swarm? New beek needs advice!

    If it looks anything like this then it is orientation flights.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtH9n...if5xg&index=26
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,489

    Default Re: Orientation flight? Swarm? New beek needs advice!

    Orientation flights. There will be bees climbing up the face of the box to leave, lots of bees hovering around the entrance, and bees flying in circles in front and above the hive.

    If you watch carefully, you will notice that young (fuzzy) bees emerge from the hive, take a very short flight, and return, then take off again and circle, then land, take off again, and then circle in expanding spirals. Sometimes they will then take off on a foraging flight, but usually simply circle around for a while then got back in.

    During this process, the bees memorize their hive location. From now on, until they are held inside for several days or the hive is moved (or you obstruct their view from the landing board) they will always return to that hive, having "oriented" themselves to it. Bees that have swarmed and found a new home will orient, if they are held inside more than 72 hours or so by cold, rain, etc, or when the hive is moved or the entrance changed by a leafy branch or something similar, they will re-orient.

    Orientation flights are a good sign, and can be quite impressive. It means that bees that have not bee foragers or which have been prevented from foraging are preparing to go out and get nectar and pollen.

    Each hive is different, but they tend to orient a few hours before sunset. Around here, in December or January, that's about 1 pm. In the summer it's between 4 and 6 pm depending on day length, but will happen at just about the same time every day.

    Robbing events can look similar, but in that case the robbing bees will be landing on the front of the hive or the sides and walking in. There will be fighting at the entrance, and dead bees on the grounds, with bees stinging each other. Orientation flights have bees walking up from the entrance to leave with bees flying straight into the entrance when they land. A very busy hive on a strong flow will have the same behaviors, but little or no circling for the bees to memorize the hive location.

    Peter

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Adelaide, Australia
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Orientation flight? Swarm? New beek needs advice!

    NasalSponge, looking very similar to that video, same actions are happening!

    psfred, just like you described, lots of bees hanging on the front of the hive, just above entrance, and a heap of bees buzzing around in widening circles, anywhere from 30cm to 2-3 metres high, around 2-3 hours until sunset, which is 4:30-5pm atm.

    I get home from work @ 4:20pm and they seem to be doing this most days for the last week roughly

    So are these the same young bees everyday doing this? Or that days worth of young?

    I have noticed a huge increase in entrance activity, changed for 1-3 coming/going to around 15-20 coming/going at any time, which make sense, the nuc was put in the hive about 3-4 weeks ago, so I am guessing they are the young from the frames provided or young laid in my hive?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Default Re: Orientation flight? Swarm? New beek needs advice!

    When there is evidence of bees swarming that is outside the hive, they are swarming and will be gone to the trees in a matter of minutes. Very few minutes. Then they will hang in a nearby spot for somewhere between a few minutes and a few days while they find somewhere to move to. If they didn't leave, they were either orienting or robbing and orienting would seem more likely.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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