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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    Default Odd behavior-- bees clustered on windows

    This morning my wife was up a little before dawn, and when she went out to the kitchen and turned on the lights, she saw a couple hundred bees on the windows that look out into the back yard, It was her impression that they were trying to get inside, and in fact, several had gotten in, probably through the dog door (we have three dogs.) One landed on her back, which caused her to turn off the lights and run to the bedroom, where I was instructed to get it off. I did. When we went back to the kitchen, most of the bees were gone, but there were still several dozen clinging to the windows, still trying to get in. By the time the sun was up, the bees were gone.

    Any theories about this?

    The only thing that is any different about the 6 hives in the backyard is that yesterday I checked them all briefly for stores. It was in the low 70s, and bees were flying freely, but rain was coming soon. The last hive I checked, the one that had a long bout with laying workers in the summer, turned out to be my first experience with a hot hive. When I opened it, after a little smoke in the entrance, the bees blasted out and hit my veil and I was stung through my gloves. I persisted in annoying them, pulled a few frames, and discovered that this hive still had 4 or 5 frames of brood, while the rest of the hives in the yard only had one or two. There were lots of hostile bees. Everyone had adequate stores, including the hot ones. A few bees followed me back to the house, but I gave myself a serious smoking and they left me alone.

    The only explanation that occurred to me for the bees clustered on the windows was zombie flies. It was not a small swarm, because the bees were in a flat layer and distributed across several large windows. I'm mystified.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,300

    Default Re: Odd behavior-- bees clustered on windows

    Several possibilities, come to mind. Possibly a source of light was inside, when less light was outside. Condensation on outside of window, a source of needed warm moisture.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    708

    Default Re: Odd behavior-- bees clustered on windows

    Checking on the bees stirred them up with lots of defensive patrolling. They didn't settle by nightfall, and the house lights drew them like moths.

    Is this a "Beeweaver" queen that has gone African on you?

  4. #4
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    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: Odd behavior-- bees clustered on windows

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    Checking on the bees stirred them up with lots of defensive patrolling. They didn't settle by nightfall, and the house lights drew them like moths.

    Is this a "Beeweaver" queen that has gone African on you?
    No. This was originally a package from a semi-treatment-free source, Wolf Creek-- the apiary is in TN but the bees actually came from Georgia, so I wonder. But I bought them for their small cell origins, and they did build a bunch of small cell comb on my foundationless frames. But by mid-summer, they started superceding, and kept it up until they went laying worker. I gave them eggs from a hive started from a local nuc, until they finally made a queen. This was a couple months ago, and when I checked the hive 2 weeks ago, they were not aggressive. My Beeweaver queen was superceded too, but that hive is not aggressive at all.

    The thought did occur to me that maybe there was an Africanized takeover, but according to longtime beekeepers here there have been no Africanized bees in this part of NW Florida. The nearest incidents I'm aware of were 60 miles away in Panama City. The state runs traplines along the interstate just north of us, and don't catch any, so I think it probably is just a big strong hive that may have gotten stirred up in some other way. If it remains aggressive, I'll requeen it in the spring from one of the nucs I'm overwintering. Only a couple bees followed me as far as the house, and my understanding of Africanized bees is that they are more defensive than that.

    But I bet you're right about the dawn window bees being from the stirred up hive. There's always a few bees attracted to the lights, but these were not, because the kitchen was pretty dark when my wife went in. Would they have stayed at a dark window all night?
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Odd behavior-- bees clustered on windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    Several possibilities, come to mind. Possibly a source of light was inside, when less light was outside. Condensation on outside of window, a source of needed warm moisture.
    Possible, but I've had 6 hives in the back yard for several months, and though there have always been a few bees at the back windows-- and some make it inside-- this was a much larger group of them. It didn't get very cold last night-- just down into the upper 60s, I believe.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
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    660

    Default Re: Odd behavior-- bees clustered on windows

    Ray, sounds like they were there all night. Can they see light from that window from their entrance? May need to put something in between so they can't see it.

    I wouldn't be surprised by a few bees at the window, but that many bees is way too defensive for me. Especially if you have close neighbours.

    But if they were fine a few weeks ago, it may just have been a bad day for them, so you should give them another chance. But if they continue to be aggressive, the queen should be replaced to introduce new genetics

  7. #7
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    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: Odd behavior-- bees clustered on windows

    Matthew, I was talking to my wife last night, and Nancy told me that when she first went into the kitchen and turned on the light there were no bees at the windows. It was a sort of Hitchcockian moment a few minutes later, after she'd started the coffee machine, to turn around and see all those bees clustered at the windows. So evidently those bees were out flying in the predawn darkness. She didn't see the same thing this morning, but the sun was up by the time we got up today.

    The hives can see the windows, but that's because I like being able to look out and see the bees blasting up into the sky. Our lot here in Florida is surrounded by tall trees, so the bees have to ascend at jet fighter angles to get out of the yard. It's just fun to watch.

    As a beginner, I bother the bees a lot more than I should. But I try to leave them alone more, now that our very mild winter is arriving. I hadn't checked the hives for two weeks, which is a record for me when I'm in town. Next week I'll check the hot hive again, weather permitting. I've wondered why that hive has so much more brood than the others in the yard, and if that extra vigor means anything in regards to the hive's genetics..
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,727

    Default Re: Odd behavior-- bees clustered on windows

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    Checking on the bees stirred them up with lots of defensive patrolling. They didn't settle by nightfall, and the house lights drew them like moths.
    It's that simple.

    Re the extra brood, when a hive has been queenless for a while, possibly been through drone laying etc, then finally you get a queen into them. All the bees are now quite old. They realise this, and pump out a lot more brood at first if they still can, to get the population stabilised. This will even happen winter or especially happen winter, in relation to the other hives.

    Re the agro, they didn't sound THAT agro many hive can be like that on a bad day. Sounds like you are used to some pretty docile bees and are also in an environment with good nectar flows which keeps them happy. A hive that has been queenless a long time has a lot of old bees and will be more aggressive till the population is balanced back to more young bees. It's possible next time you work the hive it will be same as the others. But having said all that, it might turn out to be an angry one, in which case requeen before it infects all the others with it's genetics.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
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    660

    Default Re: Odd behavior-- bees clustered on windows

    Either way it was the light in the window that attracted them.

    What Old Timer said about them being mainly older bees, that have been through queenlessness is also a good point. They don't seem to loose the attitude until that generation has been replaced. So see how they go...

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Odd behavior-- bees clustered on windows

    Quote Originally Posted by MattDavey View Post
    Either way it was the light in the window that attracted them.

    What Old Timer said about them being mainly older bees, that have been through queenlessness is also a good point. They don't seem to loose the attitude until that generation has been replaced. So see how they go...
    I think the bees that went through queenlessness were long dead, since the hive successfully requeened itself more than 3 months ago. Also, a couple weeks before they acted hostile, they were sweet. If it was leftover queenless bees, that doesn't make any sense. At no time during the laying worker weeks and after did the hive act aggressive, until earlier this month.

    Today I took another look into that hive, and though they still seemed a bit more aggressive than my other (completely peaceful) bees, they were fine. I guess they were just having a bad day. All 6 of my Florida hives still look pretty good, but the best one is also the slightly hot one. Still has 4 or 5 frames of good-looking brood. I guess that brood break was a good one. But I wonder about that a little, since with the laying workers, there was a lot of drone brood hatched out of worker comb. Wouldn't that have let to a lot of mites? But the colony looks great so far.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  11. #11
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    Dec 2011
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    Victoria, Australia
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    Default Re: Odd behavior-- bees clustered on windows

    Ok, didn't realise it was that long.

    My original thought was that these bees are the offspring of the new queen. So it may be genetics. Time will tell.

    My coment about aggressiveness is concerning having bees near your house. My parents made me get rid of a hive once (before I left home...long time ago now!) because they kept chasing my mum when she hung out the washing. (That was before I found out I could order a queen locally.) Stopped beekeeping for a few years because of that. But caught the bug again.

    No experience with varroa mites. (We don't have them here.) Maybe the attraction to drone brood means the workers get attacked less.

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