Initial Distance of First Flight
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Belmont, Michigan
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    Default Initial Distance of First Flight

    Lets assume for talking purposes, your neighbor has a bee tree on his property which is off limits to you, and this tree issues a swarm every year. You want to set-up a swarm trap to catch the issuing swarm. As I understand swarms, they leave the parent hive for a bush, limb, etc. pretty loaded with honey. We'll call this first landing distance X. Now as the bees are clustered on their limb, they send out scouts to locate the permanent home which we"ll refer to as distance Y.

    Then the question is, how far is distance X on average, that a heavily laden cluster of bees with honey travels on its first jump? Second, how far do you figure a cluster travels, distance Y, on jump number two to the new home?

    What I'm trying to figure out is what a reasonable distance is for setting up a swarm trap in relation to the parent location. I'm thinking a 1/2 mile might be too much distance for a swarm to cover, then again maybe 100 yards is a reasonable distance.

    I set out a dozen traps last spring in various places such as the edge of meadows, within wooden areas, etc. without even one hit. So I'm thinking that one has to set out traps close to known sources of bees, but how far is close?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Sedgwick Co. KS
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    Default Re: Initial Distance of First Flight

    Just how close can you get to the forbidden tree? I've had two of my hives swarm, that I know of, and one went only about 50 yds. to X before I re-hived it. And the other swarm, I don't know if there was an X, but I'm fairly sure that it's Y destination was just over a mile away in one of my neighbors empty hive boxes.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Butler Co, Missouri, USA
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    446

    Default Re: Initial Distance of First Flight

    Watched a swarm come out of a hive last spring, it settled on a tree branch 25' away, only 4' high. I put them in a new box within 3' of their origin. No idea what their plans were. Pretty sure distance to the next cluster area is dependent on the queens ability to travel.
    Hindsight is 20/10, not 20/20...
    After the fact, I always know what didn't work.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    2,141

    Default Re: Initial Distance of First Flight

    I had a hive swarm about 10' to X and I moved it to Y about 10'. You never know. I would set a trap within convenient shopping distance from my neighbor's tree. Say 100 yards, not 1/2 mile. J

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Belmont, Michigan
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    187

    Default Re: Initial Distance of First Flight

    Tim, the "forbidden tree" was just a narrative to set the starting point for the question. I guess to rephrase the question into the most simplest of terms would be, how far does a swarm fly to occupy a new home?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
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    Default Re: Initial Distance of First Flight

    In simplest terms covering the broadest of situations, I would offer line of sight from the origin. No bets on how far or where they may go after leaving the "initial settling."

    I do like the forbidden tree analogy.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
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    2,909

    Default Re: Initial Distance of First Flight

    Quote Originally Posted by rick54 View Post
    Tim, the "forbidden tree" was just a narrative to set the starting point for the question. I guess to rephrase the question into the most simplest of terms would be, how far does a swarm fly to occupy a new home?
    It has been demonstrated how swarms may move anywhere from ~3 feet to ~30+ miles (it may take few hops/days to travel far).
    I just posted an article where it was documented how a swarm was captured 50km from home (based on the queen marking).
    From my experience as well, they could as well move into an empty old hive just standing next to the source hive (the oldest queens are said to fly the shortest).

    But the sweet spot is probably somewhere in between those radical numbers:

    The distance traveled by a swarm to a selected cavity, inferred from the dance tempo of scouts, ranges from ~300 to >4,000 m, suggesting the need for swarms tomove away from competition with the parent nest
    (Lindauer 1951, Seeley and Morse 1977). However, a high proportion of observed swarms may move relatively short distances: half of the swarms in the above mentioned two studies had consensus dances to cavities
    <1 km away, and swarms provided with arrays of “swarm traps” at different distances readily occupied these artĩcial cavities at distances <800 m away (Jaycox and Parise 1980, 1981; Gould 1982; Schmidt 1995; Seeley and Morse 1977).
    This being said, I would instead focus on making sure that the swarm trap is very, very, very attractive and darn easy to find.
    If it is within a radius of 1 mile of that "forbidden" tree and smells very, very nice - they will find it with high certainty.
    Heck, if a nice smelling trap is within 1/2 miles away, it is 100% chance they will find it.

    Will they like the trap?
    That is the real question.
    Just ask Litsinger.

    Keep in mind, bees routinely fly fully loaded 1-2 miles one way.
    That is just routine foraging job and not a concern (about flying too far with the full load).
    Last edited by GregV; 05-09-2019 at 10:25 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
    Posts
    557

    Default Re: Initial Distance of First Flight

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    It has been demonstrated how swarms may move anywhere from ~3 feet to ~30+ miles (it may take few hops/days to travel far).
    I just posted an article where it was documented how a swarm was captured 50km from home (based on the queen marking).
    I wonder if the swarms that move 30 miles land on/in a truck/train/ect and get carried for a while before they decide to get off and find a new home.

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