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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Willow Springs, IL
    Posts
    15

    Default Shift change at the hives?

    An interesting day at the hives today, as a new beek I thought I would post it here and see if anyone else had seen this. Today was a great day in the Chicago area for weather, sunny, temps in the mid 60s. I started my hives on Apr 20th with packaged bees on new equipment. The queens were released when I checked 5 days later. An inspection last Tuesday showed several frames with drawn comb and eggs and larva was seen inside each hive. Around 1pm I checked the top feeders and noticed they were a bit low. I removed 20 or so dead bees from the top feeders and added some 1 to 1 with Honey-B-Healthy. The fronts of the hives were busy with bees coming and going, I saw several coming back with pollen. Then around 3pm it appeared as a swarm was starting outside of my 1st hive a ton of bees flying outside the front of the hive. The second hive, which is about 3 feet from the 1st, was normal. I checked back about 15 minutes later and noticed the second hive doing the same as the 1st. I watched closely and did not notice any fighting to indicate robbing, and it seemed to be the same number of bees that were coming and going. The entrance reducer was on the large opening and the bees packed the entrance. 15 more minutes pass again and hive #1 returned to normal activity. 15 additional minutes and the second hive returned to normal activity. So I am trying to figure out what happened. Was it shift change at the factory? Just stretching they wings? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,604

    Default Re: Shift change at the hives?

    What you are seeing is orientation and cleansing flight. It happens each day around the warmest part of the day. I've found that if I have more than one hive, then they don't do it at the same time, but stagger the timing from each other.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Willow Springs, IL
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Shift change at the hives?

    OK thanks - I thought they just went out during the day on a cleansing flight. I did not know they did it in mass. I guess they all get their 15 min break at once when the factory line is shut down. Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,604

    Default Re: Shift change at the hives?

    Here is the way I conjecture about it...
    Bees when 10 days old go on their orientation flight. They then go back into the hive for another 14 days or so before they start foraging. I figure it's the young bees after 10 days old, but before they become foragers, that do the cleansing flights with the 10 day old bees that are orienting. You can stand so that the sun is just right and see the shiny droplets of BP as they cleanse. So, it's orientation and cleansing of the 3 weeks and younger bees you see each day near the warmest part of the day. Foragers, I figure, do their cleansing as they forage. It's just how I see it from what I've read and seen.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Reddick, FL (Ocala)
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Shift change at the hives?

    Had another similar thread on here week or so ago. New beek so I hadn't noticed either until after mentioned. Next day had day off and was at mentor's house waiting for him to get there so we could bang out some frames. Sure enough, looked at side of his house into back yard were 2 hives could be seen, and there was the cloud. Noticed all were doing figure 8's, orientation flights, and not close enough to see if cleansing.

    Most of the consensus from previous commentators was the newer bees getting out of hive "feeling out" their wings along with statements above. Kinda cool to sit back and watch, realizing these are the next generation taking over duties.

    Enjoy

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Southeast Virginia
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Shift change at the hives?

    Definitely orientation flights. I try to make my way out to the hive (only one right now waiting on nucs) every afternoon around three to watch the new ones get their bearings. Very interesting and mesmerizing to watch. I always have to remember to keep my distance since they're not the best flyers that young.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Drain, OR
    Posts
    424

    Default Re: Shift change at the hives?

    They are loads of fun to watch if you have time
    A backyard hobbyist, keeping hives since '09. ~ http://www.sweetthangchocolates.com
    Zone 8a/8b

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