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First, let me apologize for not having pictures. I went back to the house to get my camera, but when I returned, what I thought was an attack of robbing was either done, or may not have been that in the first place:scratch:.

Sunday afternoon, I placed a larger feeder of syrup inside the hive, using a styrofoam container ($1 at Dollar store), cut in half, with the cover inverted so it "closed" the feeder -- the entrance was cut into the side, about 1" x 3". I think it holds close to 3/4 gallon altogether (there's both some floating honeycomb and wire mesh on all sides so bees have a way of getting in and out). I was a little leery of putting the larger container in b/c I was afraid it would be too attractive to all the other critters (which is why I didn't do an outside feeder). I even had a wasp check out the action while I was there -- I batted it away, and decided to put a 1/2 piece of cork in the round hole to make the entrance easier to defend if the wasp returned. When I went back to check yesterday evening, all was good.

I just went out about an hour ago (5:15 EST) to take a look, and saw one side of the hive crawling with what I thought were huge black ants. When I got closer, I saw they were bees, a few rows of them, seemingly marching in or out, and they looked darker than "my" bees. Outside the hive was a much bigger cloud of bees flying around than I'd seen before. The cloud seemed frantic, but honestly, I don't have the experience to know a frantic bee unless it were actively trying to sting me. Okay, I thought -- this was robbing -- there looked to be unknown bees combined with an angry horde. I deided the feeder had to come out. I went back to the house, donned battle armor, grabbed my camera and smoker, and marched back to the hive (at the other end of our 5 acres). When I arrived...nothing. All seemed normal. There were bees entering and exiting from the various spots. I puffed a bit of smoke at one entrance and I heard the normal heightened buzz, but nothing unusual. I opened the observation window and inside the hive, I saw lots of activity around the feeder, but nothing that looked like fighting. No wrestling, no aerodynamic displays of apis mellifera duking it out. Definitely could hear the hum, but since the new brood had hatched and there were just more bees, that shouldn't be so odd. So, I sat and watched the different entrances for the next 20 minutes. I saw bees leave and return. Bees packed with pollen (which seems to get spilled on the ground a lot -- what's up with that?), bees just going in and out, no apparent emergency.

So, what did I see? The mass of bees on the outside didn't look like bearding (and the high today was only in the low 80s, and not much humidity). Could it have been a huge (from my n00b perspective on a very young colony) orientation flight? Why did the bees look so dark? (Okay, that was probably a silly question: the new brood is just emerging, so I don't really know what "my" bees are going to look like). I know not having pictures makes this a difficult question to answer! If you have any musings, I'd appreciate your thoughts!
 

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At a certain time each day my hives will look more busy than normal. The air can be somewhat thick with the bees. Each hive seems to have its own schedule, but when several hives take to the air for their orientation flights at the same time it can look a little hectic.
Take time to watch and see how the bees are flying and where they are flying to and from. For orientation flights the bees are facing the hives and hovering up and down and side to side. You could have also had some bees just hanging out at the same time as the flight.
Your queen will have most likely mated with several drones, all of which may have offspring that look a little different. Next time you are in the hive, see if there is a difference between the girls.
Good luck!!
 

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Hi msscha--You do know your own hive's drones are all big and dark and sound different than your workers,right? The first time I saw a group of drones orienting instead of workers it sounded really different at my hive and did sound agitated....sort of. I thought "what is that noise? What's wrong?" took me a minute to "get it" that they were My drones outside for the first time for me to look at.
 

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Agreed - sounds like the daily orientation fight - like recess time at an elementary school. 'Still one of the most wondrous times of the day to be near a bee hive! A bit scary for the first time, but a wonder to behold after that. Most, if not all, of those kids don't have an inkling of why they would want to sting anyone. Just learnin to fly... Cue the Pink Floyd...
 

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last fall when I fed my new requeen heavily-requeened in July-I experienced this at nearly every feeding. Clouds of bees all excited. I still (like you) could not help myself from going out and watching until I sort of made sure I didn't see my bees fighting with other bees, but it looked frantic. Due to all that feeding, I guess, my hive made it through the winter.

Sometimes I just have to tell myself I am doing all this for the pollination and to help the bee population. I just recently am fighting a mite problem. That's my latest worry. I'm glad for this forum.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi msscha--You do know your own hive's drones are all big and dark and sound different than your workers,right? The first time I saw a group of drones orienting instead of workers it sounded really different at my hive and did sound agitated....sort of. I thought "what is that noise? What's wrong?" took me a minute to "get it" that they were My drones outside for the first time for me to look at.
Umm, yes and no? I didn't know that drones would be darker, though I knew they'd be bigger. Nor did I know they'd all do their orientation flights together! Makes much more sense now...I can't wait for the kids to get out of school so my schedule lightens up a bit and I can just spend time watching watching watching!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you all for your responses -- they were reassuring, and I appreciate it very much.

To whomever removed the acronym from my original post...sorry! I will refrain from using bad language:no:.
 

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The group orienting all depends on how your queen lays her drones. I've seen pictures of worker brood,comb after comb with a smattering of drone within. Not mine! My Carnie queens always lay a bunch of worker combs, Then, a whole comb of drones all at once. So my drones hatch and orient over the same couple of days and make a fun mob scene out there.
 
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