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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    Odfrank has posted in the past about how he has seen bees guarding and fighting over nesting sites - sometimes weeks in advance of swarming. His posts are the only thing I've read that suggested that behavior.

    However, after having and watching my own swarm traps for several seasons, I have to lend my own observations to the discussion.

    I have seen bees cleaning and defending nest sites (in this case swarm traps) well in advance of swarming. Last year, I had a steady stream of bees completely clean out an old brood comb for more than two weeks. There was a flow on, and there was nothing in the old combs. No honey or pollen, yet a steady stream of bees (sometimes 15-20 or more bees in the box at a time) for weeks, and clear guarding behavior as bees land at the entrance.

    I had heard that scouts locate new nest sites after a swarm has issued, and sits in a cluster. But these observations suggest that bees investigate and even compete for suitable nesting sites well in advance of swarming.

    Have you noticed this at your swarm traps?

    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
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    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    Mr Collins, .. Six weeks ago I had 4 deep supers sitting on a pallet near the barn door. 2 boxes high, 2 boxes wide. I had placed them there waiting to put them out as swarm boxes. Each contained 2 old drawn brood combs and one frame foundation. I noticed lots of bees visiting the box on the top right. Over the next few days there were more bees, in fact so many that I thought a swarm had moved in and I opened the box only to find about 100 bees and considerable fighting taking place. I thought they may all be robbers and fighting over the old comb. But, they acted more like scouts than robbers. This behavior went on for about a week. I thought it odd that they would fight over the box on the top right, and completely ignore the other three boxes.

    Then, one morning I noticed a swarm had moved into the box on the top left. All the activity had been in the box on the top right, but the swarm moved into the top left. No more activity in the box on the top right. Hasn't been any since. I did not put the three boxes out. They are still sitting there.

    I left the swarm there for a couple of weeks, then moved them about 4 miles to a friends garden, and when the garden season is over, I will move to one of my yards.

    cchoganjr

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    4,953

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    I have three bait hives hosts complaining to me that the bait boxes at their homes have been heavily scouted for the last few weeks but no swarms arrive. The last bait catch I know of was 5/21. So this scouting has gone on for a month since the last catch. But I have caught several swarms manually since 5/21, one this morning.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    1,976

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    I have two dead-outs and a swarm trap here in the yard.

    I got one swarm on May 31. Then nothing. Suddenly Tuesday morning, I saw a few bees around the trap. By noon there were tons of bees at the trap and the dead-outs, and I thought I'd see another swarm before the end of the day. For two days since, there's been steady robbing of the dead-outs and yet still steady activity in the swarm trap. We shall see.

    Do you guys get swarms if traps are in the sun? I'm wondering if some of mine get too hot.

    Adam

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
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    1,903

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    Do you guys get swarms if traps are in the sun? I'm wondering if some of mine get too hot.
    Almost all of mine are in the direct sun.

    cchoganjr

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
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    2,213

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    I have two swarm traps in my yard, and I haven't seen fighting. I have noticed in previous years that interest in these boxes occurs before a swarm issues, and so I think of them as swarm indicators. No bees have shown any interest this year.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Brookville, PA
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    It would actually make sense that the bees start scouting BEFORE they swarm. The hive knows they are going to swarm at some point - queen cells have been made. It would make more sense that they scout ahead of time rather than swarm and then start looking.

    That might explain why sometimes swarms show up only to fly away a short time later. They had already prescouted beforehand, and once they swarmed and realized all was well and the queen was with them - they take off for their new home that was previously scouted out.

    Don't know what to say about the swarms that came out and then cluster for days on end and eventually start building comb right there. Is that a case of they looked and couldn't find anything, or they looked and checked out sites but couldn't make up their minds so just started building comb right where they cluster?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Dawn, MO 64638
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    Quote Originally Posted by Cleo C. Hogan Jr View Post
    Almost all of mine are in the direct sun.

    cchoganjr
    I have had 4 in the past two weeks with 2 of them yesterday. Two were in Warre hives - one with one box and one with two boxes. The other two were caught in boxes with the Lagstrom deminsions. One box was in the full sun the other three were facing the south/southeast with timber on the west side of the boxes for shade.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    4,953

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    I brought in all my traps today, I need the combs for divides. Two ten frame traps that had been scouted for weeks both had about ten bees living inside.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Carthage ,TN, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    I have noticed in my recent bait catches that yes sun does make a difference. Had a bait hive in a tree in the wide open with no sun, but by it being in the open still had a lot of light no takers. Had another in a good spot in a fence row the row ran north to south caught one about a month ago, but now as the year has progressed the box is taking on the evening sun only a couple of hours and I also repositioned the box so the entrance would not be in the sun no takers. I have discovered the best places to put bait hives are in fence rows running east to west with very minimal morning sun and I mean very minimal. Thus far I have caught 3 swarms this month 2 appox. 4-6# and 1 close to 10# or enough to a medium to give them a little more room. So to answer to complete your thought I would say no sun if possible on what I have observed it gets to hot. Good luck.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    1,515

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    Odfrank has posted in the past about how he has seen bees guarding and fighting over nesting sites - sometimes weeks in advance of swarming. His posts are the only thing I've read that suggested that behavior....
    I did not have many chances, but, yes, I saw how bees visited "potential" home (nuc) for quite a while and than occupied it. The question was is it the same bees or not? In my case, I am quite sure that the bees were from the same hive, but I do not know if "first" visitors were the part of swarm preparation? At that time, I was thinking that it was robbing behavior. The swarm was so easy, they acted like they know what they are doing - they just fly from the hive to the new location 10 feet away (on my deck) and marched inside the box. Everything was over in 20 min. Similarly, another swarm (not mine) marched into retired old box used to keep extra frames. In both cases, it was an impression, that they did know where they are going.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    626

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    Thanks for the observations in this thread. They have been very informative and helpful.

    I have been seeing behavior in and around some empty, but previously used, equipment that struck me as scouting. It seems a bit early but I thought maybe they were planning for the future. (My bees are in the middle of their first major brood-up of the spring and no drones around yet.) The scouting is just up to a few bees at a time and I am pretty sure they aren't from my hives. They are pretty much black whereas one of mine is an old gold and the other leather colored. They also fly away over my house which is the opposite direction from my hives. When they fly away they circle first like they are trying to fix the location. I added Q-Tips with queen juice and LGO around midday and interest seemed to amp up a little. I've got a few old combs in the one nuc that is getting the most interest, none in the other but it is getting a little traffic too. I had my first hive inside replacing the screened bottom with a solid one and putting new legs on it. I got that done, put it back out today,and threw some lure in for the heck of it. The other two are 10 and 8 bar KTBH nucs so they are pretty small. I plan to take the hive out to a friends place and set it up there in a week or two but maybe I should wait at least two weeks (based on what Adam observed) to see if anything wants a bigger home. I was just going to bait it there anyway, with the plan to install an early split if no swarms start homesteading.
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    >I have been seeing behavior in and around some empty, but previously used, equipment that struck me as scouting. It seems a bit early but I thought maybe they were planning for the future.

    If you think about it, the bees seem to know everything in a 1 mile radius and most things within a 2 mile radius. I think you are correct that they are making note of things for the future when you see an occasional bee check out a bait hive. When you start to see much activity, I think they are actually trying to make a decision.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Liberty, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Odfrank's Observations - Bees Inhabiting Potential Nesting Sites

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    Have you noticed this at your swarm traps?
    I have noticed something like what you are describing. I have also had large numbers of scouts stay overnight in some of the traps before. The first year I trapped I thought this was just a fluke, but I have observed it many times now. That's why I don't move traps until there is pollen entering.

    I wrote something about this behavior in a post on 5/17/2012.
    http://letmbee.com/2012/05/17/new-ob...ming-behavior/

    There is still much to bees that we don't understand.... Good thing they know what they're doing......
    Jason Bruns
    LetMBee.com YouTube

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