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I have a friend with two new hives about 6 weeks old. Both are queenless and raising queen cells. Yesterday there was a cloud of bees near the hives. I searched for a swarm but could locate a ball of bees. We opened the hives and there were more less the same amount of bees present as usual on a beautiful summer afternoon. One of the hives had a queen cell where the queen had emerged. Could this spectacle have been the queen on her maiden flight? I don't want to keep opening the hives to look at them and see if there are less bees. I prefer to leave them alone if possible. The only thing I can think with that many bees flying a round in a scattered pattern is a swarm or a maiden flight. Thanks, Esteban
 

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It sounds to me like an orientation and cleansing flight. It normally happens in the afternoons at the hottest part of the day, or shortly thereafter. It could have been a virgin queen orientation flight as well I suppose, but can not state that as fact from my experiences.
 

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Oops, hit submit too quickly! This cloud was not at the hive entrance but more like 20 to 30 feet up in the air about 50 feet away from the hives.
 

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Sounds like absconding as well, but that is pretty easy to tell for sure after a few minutes.
 
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