Initial Distance of First Flight

Thread: Initial Distance of First Flight

1. Join Date
May 2014
Location
Belmont, Michigan
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186

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?

2.

3. Join Date
May 2014
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Sedgwick Co. KS
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1,100

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. Join Date
Oct 2015
Location
Butler Co, Missouri, USA
Posts
435

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.

5. Join Date
Apr 2016
Location
Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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2,070

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. Join Date
May 2014
Location
Belmont, Michigan
Posts
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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. Join Date
Mar 2014
Location
Red Bud, IL, USA
Posts
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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.

8. Re: Initial Distance of First Flight

Originally Posted by rick54
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.

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.

9. Join Date
Apr 2018
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Posts
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Re: Initial Distance of First Flight

Originally Posted by GregV
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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