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I'm a new beekeeper and am puzzled by something I saw today at the hive.

Some of the bees were tumbling onto their backs on the landing board on their way out of the hive. They seemed to be okay, just rolled over onto their legs and flew away. A good number were affected, maybe 1/4 or 1/5 of all the bees that were leaving.

At first I thought maybe they were intruders that were being thrown out, but I didn't see any aggressive flying around the hive, or skirmishes at the entrance, or even any guards. I looked a little way into the entrance, and all seemed fine.

Another thought was that the bees had been exposed to a toxin or alcohol (syrup fermented about a month ago, but seems not to have done so recently), and their nerves are somehow affected. I haven't treated them with any medications, am just feeding sugar syrup. Would they be thus affected from heat exhaustion? They are on an unshaded rooftop in New York, where it hit 103F today. (Bees from nearby hives on the same rooftop did not seem to have the same problem, however.)

Or could it be a physical reason that would make them do this? Some other bees climbed a centimeter or two up the wall above the entrance and took off from there, but only very rarely did one drop a little upon taking off as a honey laden robber might ... dunno, perhaps some bees may have chosen to climb up there for a better grip.

Any ideas what is going on? Is this something I need to be concerned about and address? It seems at best a little rough on the girls...

The hive is standard Langstroth, with three 10 frame medium hive bodies. No entrance reducer.

Thanks in advance for any insights!
 

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Does the hive have a slatted rack under the brood box, by any chance?


Here is another recent thread about the same thing: http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=243158
Ironically, started by another Brooklynite.
Something about brooklyn girls falling on their backs...? Maybe we should call Brooklyn bees "Old round heels" ;D


P.S. I was born in Brooklyn. Spent most of my first year on my back.
 

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Whew, good to know. Thanks for pointing me to that thread. I guess we just have hyper-eager bees. What the evolutionary advantage to that is I can only imagine.

I have a screened bottom board, not a slatted rack. Incidentally, my bees are Italian.
 

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Don't Italians drink wine with every meal? Maybe they've overindulged? :D
 

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Thanks for the various responses.

@Stevebug re:screened bottom board nope never used that. Dusted with powdered sugar though, in fact all my hives are mite free at the moment. I don't use any miticide except a little mixture of thyme, lemon grass and mint boiled into a syrup which I feed the bees. (I grow my own thyme, lemon grass and peppermint, I heard it works and am testing it.). The back crawl occurs when the bees are leaving the hive to forage, and not all bees in this hive seem to practice it (this is the only hive which performs this action). I have had this hive about 2 months and while they are laying and creating new bees. I see more honey making activity than laying, which make me think I might need to get a new queen. Chemical is a no no when I am located as my immediate neighbors don't use pesticides. However the local health authority fogs the community every other week during the rainy season(mosquito control), we are in the rainy season now.

@Omie The other thread provided me with some interesting information which I will definitely consider. I have two other hives at the moment which exhibits none of these kinds of activity. However none of these hives are related. I will continue to monitor the hive.
 

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Since you have other hives and they are not showing this behavior I would tend to think it is in fact a family trait. Remember that bees in the wild fly down and out of a tree. As long as they are healthy let them bee. I have been learning that you can know a lot about inside the hive without taking it apart every other day to look. I remember one person on a podcast saying (I think it was the late Bob Evans) " Open your hive up just like you would want a 300 foot person ripping your roof off. Disturb them the same way.If it looks iffy weather wise keep it shut." Many people treat their hives like pet gerbils and wonder why they never grow bigger and thrive. Just a thought worth remembering. Peace
Steve
 

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I have a couple hives that do this too, I run a slatted rack and SBB on all of them. A few do it but some dont? Looks to me like their just in a big hurry to fly out and forge, do it more when the hives are working hard.
 

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I have noticed this also. I have one hive that has a little larger opening than the rest and yesterday I could see what they were doing. It looks like they leave the comb hanging upside down and try to do a barrel roll to fly out of the hive without getting on the bottom board. Sometimes they don't make it and land on their backs. Thats what it looked like to me anyway.
 
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