What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?
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  1. #1
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    Question What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Hi there,

    I am writing a novel and the key component of the plot is the abandonment of a bee colony that had previously been kept by the main character.
    I am completely inexperienced and have recently begun to research beekeeping for the novel.

    So, what would happen to the bees if, after being kept and tended to by a beekeeper, they were simply driven into the wild and dumped? When I say dumped, I mean that they would be without a hive. Quite simply, they would be a colony that was been emptied, Queen and all, upon the ground.

    Any explanation of the bees' behaviour following an act like this would be greatly appreciated. For example, would they simply look for a new location to build a hive? Whilst looking, would they be considered a swarm?

    Many thanks,
    Keane

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Quote Originally Posted by keanexo View Post
    Hi there,

    I am writing a novel and the key component of the plot is the abandonment of a bee colony that had previously been kept by the main character.
    I am completely inexperienced and have recently begun to research beekeeping for the novel.

    So, what would happen to the bees if, after being kept and tended to by a beekeeper, they were simply driven into the wild and dumped? When I say dumped, I mean that they would be without a hive. Quite simply, they would be a colony that was been emptied, Queen and all, upon the ground.

    Any explanation of the bees' behaviour following an act like this would be greatly appreciated. For example, would they simply look for a new location to build a hive? Whilst looking, would they be considered a swarm?

    Many thanks,
    Keane
    In most cases they would die. But in fiction you can make them do anything.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cabin View Post
    In most cases they would die. But in fiction you can make them do anything.
    exactly my own thoughts.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    My thoughts....
    If a predator got to them like a skunk, they may certainly be decimated enough to just die out as a colony. On the other hand, if they managed to cluster around their queen, she'd slim down over the next day or two because she'd have no where to lay and they'd stop feeding her. She could then fly. I also think the entire time they'd be scouting for a new home in a tree or some other cavity. If they found something, they'd all take off like a swarm and set up a new hive there. The issue would be resources/food. Intentional swarms will load up on food and carry it with them in their honey crops to help in starting a new home. Simply dumping it wouldn't give them time to do that unless, of course, the hive was left there, say, knocked over and in pieces after the dumping. I think though the bees would try to become a swarm and find a new place to live. Their success rate would probably be low but they'd try.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    There is an old saying...
    A swarm in May will make hay-
    A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon-
    A swarm in July, not worth a fly.
    Even a freak natural swarm after the end of June where most regions end up in a floral dearth period, would have very long odds of making it even to the onset of winter, let alone wintering over to spring. Earlier in April or May, there is a chance they may cluster up, find a cavity, build up, and if they don't succumb to predators, disease, starvation, or pesticides, they may make it to spring and cast a swarm to reproduce... could make a story out of it, but I fear the genue would best fit a fairy tale format.
    Bob

  7. #6
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Everyone is thinking about what would happen in their location... Where does this story take place?

    Where this event takes place will also make a huge difference. The way things work in SW Florida vs North Florida ,say around FL GA border are totally different. Continuing further north and its a whole different game.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Most forget though, if they were simply dumped, most of the bees would not be gorged with honey and they would have very little resources to rebuild, so I would assume they would perish most of the time. Also, most of the bees of foraging age would probably simply take flight and never return leaving just the nurse bees and the queen.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Bees are considered "ferae naturae" meaning feral by nature, they are not domesticated animals in the way dogs, cattle, and horses are domesticated. They can and will survive so long as they can meet their two basic needs of food and shelter. This brings timing and location into consideration. There are roughly 2 months out of a year in temperate climates where bees can swarm and have a high probability of survival. In tropical climates, they might have 10 months of the year that could be successful, depending on availability of food sources.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  10. #9
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    Most forget though, if they were simply dumped, most of the bees would not be gorged with honey and they would have very little resources to rebuild, so I would assume they would perish most of the time. Also, most of the bees of foraging age would probably simply take flight and never return leaving just the nurse bees and the queen.
    That was part of my thinking. With no resources to start with it would be a long shot for them to survive. Even in the UK. But I do not think the foragers would not return unless they were dumped within 3 miles of the original hive location.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    It doesn't matter where it was done, 99.99% of the time, a dumped-out hive would simply die.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  12. #11
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Yeah.... reading the posts here I think your better write a drama instead of novel

  13. #12
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    It doesn't matter where it was done, 99.99% of the time, a dumped-out hive would simply die.
    I don't believe 99.99% is probably accurate. Is that the failure rate for swarms in prime swarm season?

    I think a strong colony shaken out and their hive removed, allowed to cluster, and force a swarm would have a good chance of establishing themselves.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Here, in a typical year in May they would most likely move into a tree and build up for winter. In September they would most likely move into a tree and starve before winter. The odds of surviving are a steady decline from May until September...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Another point that you may be able to use: foraging bees are out of the hive during the day. They will return to the location of the hive whether it is still there or not. So, if the hive was taken a few miles away to dump during the day - like mid afternoon - the bees that were out foraging when the hive was moved will begin returning to where the hive was and remain flying around that location for a couple days. I've had that happen when I've moved a hive 100 feet.
    Last edited by PHSINV; 07-12-2016 at 02:02 PM. Reason: addition

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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    However, if they were dropped near a gamma radiation source, a marvel comic book and an empty house, there is a decent chance they would mutate into a self aware organism before taking over the world.

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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Quote Originally Posted by jwcarlson View Post
    I don't believe 99.99% is probably accurate. Is that the failure rate for swarms in prime swarm season?
    The "99.99%" was a rhetorical device mean to convey "extremely small chance." Sorry if it sounded like I was quoting the results of a scientific study.

    A hive in swarm mode goes through a lot of prep over many days before leaving the hive including slimming the queen so she can do some flying and gorging on food resources. A hive dumped onto the ground has not undergone any swarm prep, has no opportunity to undergo swarm prep, the bees have not spent multiple days organizing into a "find a new cavity" mode, and will not otherwise behave as a swarm. Thus, the survival rate of a swarm has no relevance to the "dumped hive" question.

    By reading "HoneyBee Democracy" (fascinating book, BTW), it becomes clear that swarming is a drawn out process that does not happen in just a few hours or days.

    https://www.amazon.com/Honeybee-Demo...+bee+democracy

    While it is possible to imagine various scenarios where a dumped hive could survive, that is different than the probability of one of those scenarios actually occurring being anything but remote.

    JMHO




    .
    Last edited by shinbone; 07-12-2016 at 04:00 PM.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  18. #17
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Quote Originally Posted by shaneTX View Post
    However, if they were dropped near a gamma radiation source, a marvel comic book and an empty house, there is a decent chance they would mutate into a self aware organism before taking over the world.
    Shoot, if you ask my wife and check the bank book my bees have already taken over our world.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    The dumped bees would beg their way into the nearest hive most likely. That sort of messes up the plot of the book tho...am I right?
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Quote Originally Posted by shaneTX View Post
    However, if they were dropped near a gamma radiation source, a marvel comic book and an empty house, there is a decent chance they would mutate into a self aware organism before taking over the world.
    Here's your story, and potential movie rights!
    -- Joe
    "Make your own decision and embrace the consequences." -- jwcarlson

  21. #20
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    Default Re: What would happen if a colony were simply dumped in the wild?

    Synopsis of the Dumped Bees Novel

    The Handsome, Likable, Hardworking Beekeeper was raising bees in his beautiful backyard to save the world from Bee Colony Collapse.

    His neighbor, the Evil Bee Hating Villain, decided to sabotage the Handsome, Likable, Hardworking Beekeeper’s bees and take over the whole world, controlling and holding everyone captive due to no more bees.
    So in the middle of the night, the Evil Bee Hating Villain quietly climbed over the fence and stole all the beehives, loaded them in his red shiny ominous looking semi-truck, and proceeded to dump them all in a nearby forest.

    Two types of story endings:


    Ending #1: If the Evil Bee Hating Villain stole and dumped the bee hives in the dead of winter, then his evil plan succeeded and everyone then came under his horrible tyranny and all the flowers and fruit trees and veggies cried buckets of tears. And Winnie the Poo became really depressed because there was no longer any honey. The California almond trees cried more than anyone else, because they were out $11 Billion dollars.

    Ending #2: : If the Evil Bee Hating Villain stole and dumped the bee hives between March and May, then his evil plan failed because the bees all flew back home, stung the Evil Bee Hating Villain so many times that he died, and the Handsome, Likable, Hardworking Beekeeper became the number one hero of the story, was elected president of the USA, established laws that everyone should raise bees, caused the Bee Colony Collapse to end, ended world wide hunger due to the huge harvest of honey, and everyone became really really sweet [especially all the dentists], and lived happily ever after.

    The End
    Last edited by soarwitheagles; 07-13-2016 at 03:38 PM.

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