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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know I read something about this last year, hoping someone can find the link because I can't.

Wildbranch did me a solid and helped me move my hives to one location and a new bee area on my property. Anyway, they are now in a straight line and I would like to differentiate the hive entrances and perhaps hive covers to reduce drift. I remember reading a study that said bees could see the following colors: Purple blue orange yellow green violet. Anththat they could differentiate between shapes in seperate rows, but not in the same row.
i.e.
ROW 1: Solid Circle; solid square; solid triangle; solid forward slash
ROW 2: X ; diamond shape ; four vertical lines; Y shaped letter

I was thinking about alternating a bright and dark color between my four hives for the symbols above (maybe on the covers too)

I know this is filled with hobbyist overthinking. But it can't hurt.

Anyone have new informaton on what I posted above? The study I read was from 2004.


Thanks all!
 

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I'm not sure about the study that you read, however many and i mean many people out there are doing sorta the same thing you are based on the facts that the bees can see diff colors and shapes. It does cut way down on drift when hives are put into a straight line. I myself paint the fronts of my brood boxes diff colors and it keeps the bees in their own boxes so far.
 

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What controls have you put on this observation? I am pleasantly surprised how hives in a line all seem to manage OK.
 

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This is the first year I am putting my splits in a straight line. Did 5 splits yesterday and they were bringing pollen in today and all hives seemed normal and going to their hive without issue. This is a pic of when I built them. Picked up different color of paints at Walmart arts/craft dept. for .50-$1.00 ea.

 

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That's all i have done as well with my production hives. They all sit in a straight line and all have a diff color on the facefront. It is supposed to keep the bees from drifting from one hive to the next. Allot of people say that when they have all the same color hives in a straight line the last hive at the end of the line always is stronger compared to the rest even with all the same type laying patterns, etc..
 

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Here's mine I repainted all of mine just to be safe . There where all yellow . Now there's nine different colors. Don't know if it really will help but thought it couldn't hurt plus I needed a refresh coat of paint .

 

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I heard a report a few years ago on NPR that someone had published research that bees could count to three (this was done by lining up feeder stations and moving the syrup -- when in a row, the bees could reliable find the third station in a row when it has sugar, but not the fourth, fifth, or sixth, they would revert to searching for nectar rather than returning to the station).

They are also known to recognize flowers and geometric shapes -- don't know how that was done, but I'm sure the research was similar.

What this means is that more than three or four identical hives in a row without markings will result in the bees getting lost when they try to find the "fourth from the end" hive and end up begging in somewhere else, usually the end one. Putting hives in groups of three would work better, with some space between, and marking them or painting them different colors will also help. Bees do not see red, so remember than when picking colors. Red shades appear gray to them.

I also talked to a commercial beekeeper while we were waiting to see if there were any spare packages down at Kelley bees a couple weeks ago, and he says he paints symbols and figures on his mating nucs and put different colored and shaped flags on them. Reduces the number of lost queens when he's producing queens, since if a mated queen returns to the wrong nuc box she will get balled immediately. Sounds silly, but he's convinced it works and I won't argue with him.

I don't have any of these problems since I can't seem to get that many hives.

Peter
 

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I buy it.

Lots of peasant beekeepers have believed that it helps, and in some places painting fancy stuff on the front of beehives is a well-established folk art. I try to make sure my hives are all a little different, and fortunately my wife likes to paint stuff.

Table Birdhouse Furniture Outdoor table Picnic table
 

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Here is the study about bees being able to count, although instead of "count" the language they use is, "Number-Based Visual Generalisation" : :D

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0004263

A snippet ....
Using a y-maze, we found that bees can not only differentiate between patterns containing two and three elements, but can also use this prior knowledge to differentiate three from four, without any additional training. However, bees trained on the two versus three task could not distinguish between higher numbers, such as four versus five, four versus six, or five versus six.
 

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Drifting can be a real pain in the butt. Basically speaking what tends to happen is the last hive in the row ends up being very heavy with bees although you don't notice it allot due to them being field bees, which in turn take the force from the other hives, which make them weaker, less productive hives, constantly having to put out more bees to do the field work, taking from the strenght of the inner hive, etc. Then since the last hive is so ramped up on resources they end up keeping more bees in house which allow them to ramp up on the brood faster then the rest and when you aren't even thinking about the possibility of it, they swarm out, or they go gang buster and do so well that it skews your impressions of them compared to the other hives, sometimes you end up having to feed all the rest where normally you may not have had to, etc.. There are real reasons to want to cut down on bee drift, at least in my eyes there is...
 

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I tried shape and color combinations at nuc entrances and saw no benefit in stopping drift. I found the best way to stop drift was to place them in circles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Well here is what I did, for now. After moving the hives I put some grass, sticks branches etc. a different kind of bramble for each hive :) When they came out they did pretty good orienting and while they went back to the original site (100 feet away), over the past couple days they are no longer going ovewr there. The first following day, there were about 250 bees or so, so I put down and inner cover and collected them and left them walk the plank to the new hive location.

Oh yeah, and because I had to make my decision quick, here is what I did for now (Now you see why my wife is in charge of painting haha). My wife only had a few tiny bottles of acrylic paint, so painting the entire face was not an option.

 
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