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Can someone point me in the direction of any articles on bee forage tactics?

Just wanting to know if there is any studies done on going the furtherst nectar first, and picking up the closer stuff if it will rain etc

:scratch::scratch::scratch:
 

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In Thomas Seeley's book The Wisdom of the Hive he explains how the "value" ie. sugar content of nectar and the distance from the hive are used to decide which is to be gathered (the most).

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/SEEWIS.html

The most economical nectar is exploited by the majority of the nectar foraging bees.

If it was windy the bees are more likely to gather nectar closer to home as the energy required for the longer flight would be too great.
 

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The bees are all about efficiency. Forragers have a typical life-span of about 500 flight miles from the time they start forraging. If their sources of nectar are equal, they will work the flowers that are within about a third of a mile to the hive first, and work their way out if that source gets depleted. However, it is rare for the sources of nectar to be equal (basically, unless they are in the middle of a large almond orchard they will have a choice of different sources). Not only do they normally have a choice between multiple sources of nectar, but they also have a choice between pollen and nectar. So the first thing the bees sort out is if they will spend their days foraging for pollen or nectar based upon the needs of the hive, then they chose between the sources. As to how they pick the sources, that's based on economics, as in what gives the biggest return for the least flight. For example, if they have two sources of nectar, and 1 is 1 mile from the hive, and the other is 2 miles from the hive, but the one that is 1 mile from the hive has 1/3rd the sugar content of the one that is twice as far from the hive, they will work the stuff that is farther away because they can get more stores from less work.
 

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Not quite as simple as profitability and efficiency.

For example.
If the colonies food status if favorable, the colony will only exploit highly profitable sources.

But if the colonies food status is poorer, the colony will exploit most food sources regardless of profitability.

The amount of nectar intake matters also.

If a colony has a low nectar intake, a highly profitable source is desirable.

But it the colonies nectar inflow rate is high, then a highly profitable source may not
be required or even desirable, because the colony must maintain a regulated nectar inflow rate.

This is why honey which is set out for the bees during the main flow is rarely touched by foragers. The honey is perhaps the most profitable source available, but is ignored by the bees so the colony can maintain its current nectar inflow rate.

Best Wishes,
Joe

"Here their delicious task the fervent bees,
In swarming millions, tend; around, athwart,
Through the soft air, the busy Nations fly,
Cling to the bud, and, with inserted tube,
Suck its pure essence, its ethereal soul;
And oft, with bolder wing, they soaring dare
The purple heath, or where the wild thyme grows,
And yellow load them with the luscious spoil."
-Thompson, 1730 A.D.
http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/HistoricalHoneybeeArticles/
 

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Hi Joe,
Does anyone know how the bees avoid all jumping on the closest flowers? It would seem to be counterproductive if they did that. A colony of bees suddenly moved to 10 acres of blueberries must have a way to cover that area without constantly returning to the closest plants that have already been drained.

dickm
 

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"Drained" areas would cease to be promoted or advertised in "bee dances".

Thomas Seeley covered this very well in The Wisdom of the Hive

Just curious... how many colonies are put on a given area of blueberries?
 

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Hi Joe,
Does anyone know how the bees avoid all jumping on the closest flowers? It would seem to be counterproductive if they did that. A colony of bees suddenly moved to 10 acres of blueberries must have a way to cover that area without constantly returning to the closest plants that have already been drained.

dickm
I can look up some facts, but it might be time consuming.
For now, I will go from memory as best I can.

I believe Seeley determined that nectar found witen a short distance from the hive are communicated as non directional, or located "in the vicinity", this enables the foraging to spread out within a hundred yards or so from the hive. The profitability of forage located in the vicinity and elsewhere are danced on the floor on a continual basis throughout the day, and as the nectar value of that source changes within the day, it will be danced accordingly.

Seeley found that the colony does not shift the entire focus towards "vicinity forage", or any other 'most profitable' source. The bees continue to sample lesser profitable sources and assign foragers to that task because the colony needs to "hedge their bets" and continue to focus some of thier efforts towards these less profitable sources (which may be more distant or even nearby) to "keep tabs on them" and insure the colonies ability to 'rapidly shift' between sources during the day, when a particular source is depleted or nectar secretions change.

Therefore, as soon as a particular nectar source in the vicinity becomes lesser than that of a competing source, be-it near or distant, the dance for a vicinity source will loose out to other sources, causeing a rapid and noticeable decline in the focusing of work force dedicated towards vivinity forage.

Apple orchards are known to keep some dandelions growing and flowering under the apple trees to enable the bees to remain focused on vicinity foraging. Bees dropping down to dandelions during times of the day when nectar secretion lessens in the apple bloom, and ascending up to the apple bloom during times of the day when the the dandelion nectar secretion lessons.

Best Wishes,
Joe
 

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The house bees determine which nectar is valued. When the forager bees return to the hive, the house bees unload the bees with the best nectar first. That forager bee tells the other bees where they found the nectar, and this in turn causes more foragers to get this nectar. Those bees get highest priority getting unloaded, and on and on.

If a forager returns with weak nectar, it has to wait around before any house bees will reluctantly unload the nectar.
 
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