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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Walker, LA
    Posts
    25

    Default Ball of bees outside new hive

    I installed a package of bees on 5/13 at my in-law's house and I got a call tonight that there is a ball about the size of a grapefruit on the ground in front of the hive. I'm planning on checking to make sure the queen was released tomorrow morning, but is there any reason why the bees should be behaving this way? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    1,186

    Default Re: Ball of bees outside new hive

    Was the queen clipped?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Walker, LA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Ball of bees outside new hive

    Edit: Yes she was.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Columbia, Missouri, usa
    Posts
    211

    Default Re: Ball of bees outside new hive

    She is probably in the center of that ball of bees

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Walker, LA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Ball of bees outside new hive

    So, two new questions then...Is this a mating "flight?" and will she be able to make it back up into the hive?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    1,186

    Default Re: Ball of bees outside new hive

    No it's absconding and she didn't make it far because she can't fly with clipped wings only if you put her back in

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Walker, LA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Ball of bees outside new hive

    Update: I went to the hive last night and tried to scoop as many of the bees back in. Came back today and there was still a very small group where the ball was, but the hive was a ghost town today. It was teeming last night. I'm guessing the bees realized they're queenless and left.

    So, postmortem, what causes abdication in new packages and how can i prevent this in the future?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Cleveland, OH, USA
    Posts
    475

    Default Re: Ball of bees outside new hive

    "The size of a grapefruit" sounds frankly too small to be a swarm-type cluster from a brand new package. I'm guessing that the bees released but quickly rejected the queen for some reason (that was indeed her in the center of the ball, but she was not having a good time) and, having no brood or any way to raise any queens or even any place for a worker to start laying, the remainder of the bees lit out for parts unknown.

    Reasons a new package might ball their new queen: 1) the release somehow happened too quickly for them to have fully accepted her; 2) some sort of unacceptable disturbance that the bees blamed on the queen. Excessive noise, vibration, or predation might do it; too much ventilation might as well. Does your in-law have children or dogs that might've been too interested in the new hive?
    Beeless since 2012; coming back in 2014. Suffering from apicultural withdrawal!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Walker, LA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Ball of bees outside new hive

    Yes, they've got a pair of large dogs that run around near the hive.

    I'm not sure if there's a connection, but the hive was painted about 2 days before the installation. Would the smell of latex-base paint have an effect on the decision to leave?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
    Posts
    976

    Default Re: Ball of bees outside new hive

    I'm just a newbie, so I have a lot to learn, but I thought that paint fumes from not-fully-dried paint would certainly drive a new package away from they intended new home. I would be interested to hear from the experts if two days is enough time for all the paint fumes to go away. I let my newly painted woodenware dry for at last a week.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 12 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Walker, LA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Ball of bees outside new hive

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    I would be interested to hear from the experts if two days is enough time for all the paint fumes to go away. I let my newly painted woodenware dry for at last a week.
    I painted my boxes 2 weeks in advance last year and they were happy as can be. I installed a second package this year at my home and used a box that was painted last year, so the paint thing is the only real difference between the hives.

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