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I live on a 13 acre island in the Bahamas. We are 4 miles from the mainland of Abaco and the closest small islands to us are a mile away. A couple years ago I came across a swarm in a tree. I am curious if anyone can tell me if bee swarm travel long distances over water. The two islands closest to aren't much larger than us. I wa sable to capture the swarm and get it into a cardboard box. I then hastily built a box out of plywood hoping to get something started, but they didn't take to it and moved on. I knew nothing about beekeeping at the time. I have since started educating myself and I built a top bar hive. Now I am wondering if they are in residence here somewhere and I just haven't stumbled across them or have they moved on to another island or mainland. Any thought form those more experienced would be appreciated.

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Wow! 13 acres is tiny! I can't imagine there could be that many bees if there are any on the island, it seems like your forage would be limited.

I think I remember Tom Seeley talking about honeybees and water, but I don't remember which text, maybe honeybee democracy. You may want to check that out. Then again, I'm getting old and forgetful.
 

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Yes, swarms, queens, drones will cross water. You need an island several miles out to keep them from mating with bees on another island or the mainland or swarming to another island or the mainland... According to those who have tried controlling mating by doing it on islands, six or seven miles would be fairly safe that the bees would NOT fly that far. I think it's a safe bet they will forage as far as 2 miles in a pinch and a mile and a half on a regular basis. I do wonder if and how much the water would discourage them from looking that far for forage. But they apparently fly the same distances to mate over water as they do over land.
 
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