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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We were headed out our driveway yesterday at about 5pm. Looked over at our two hives. East hive was quiet with normal traffic. West hive had an actual cloud of bees flying in front of it. Entrance was covered with bees up to about 3 inches above the entrance opening all the way across the front surface and the entrance board was wall-to-wall bees. The air was full of bees. I told my wife they were preparing to swarm. She replied that they were all just flying up, making a circle, and landing. After a few minutes of observation, we decided it must be an orientation flight. So we went to town and returned about an hour later to find the bees were still covering the front entrance board but not flying as before. Should we be concerned about this behavior?
 

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I have one hive that occasionally does the same thing. I usually thing they are being robbed or beginning to swarm. They may have already made one swarm, because they don't seem as strong as they were. I am anxious to see the answers that you get.
 

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The entrance being covered and going upwards sounds like washboarding. Were they barely moving back and forth? The small circular flights and then returning sounds like orientation flights. Check about the same time today and see if it happens again. You should see some fighting if another hive is attempting to rob. Maybe some dead bees on the ground. It sounds like normal activity, but may need a little more information.
 

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I noticed one of my hives do that same thing one day last week. I thought they were probably going to swarm, but we are in kind of a dearth. I've been watching them closely since then. All seems OK. I do have a lot of bearding, but that doesn't really concern me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I took some photos of the event...but I cannot presently transfer them from my phone to my computer here at work. Will try to put them on my computer at home later today.
 

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if U don't catch robbing at first there will be no fight robbers will take over --fly direct into hive --if robbing -it will look like a sale at WALL-MART on black Fri. --pushing and shoving
 

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My two hives do that every day between 4 and 5 pm. It lasts about 15-20 minutes. They usually don't do it at the same time. They're orientation flights (IMHO)
 

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Had a hive doing exactly the same last night. A mass of bees hovering in front and over the hive while a couple of doz were washboarding. No one too excited except when one of the orientating bees did a controlled crash landing in the middle of the washboarders.
 

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My two hives do that every day between 4 and 5 pm. It lasts about 15-20 minutes. They usually don't do it at the same time. They're orientation flights (IMHO)
Isn't it funny how the hives take turns doing their orientation flights? My hives are in rows, and I often see the enormous activity at one hive, then settle down, then another hive begins and settles down, and on down the line. Years ago, it panicked me, but now I know it's normal and the hives are fine. You will gain the experience to judge what yours are doing by watching and then comparing.
Becky
 

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My two hives do that every day between 4 and 5 pm. It lasts about 15-20 minutes. They usually don't do it at the same time. They're orientation flights (IMHO)
Isn't it funny how the hives take turns doing their orientation flights? My hives are in rows, and I often see the enormous activity at one hive, then settle down, then another hive begins and settles down, and on down the line. Years ago, it panicked me, but now I know it's normal and the hives are fine. You will gain the experience to judge what yours are doing by watching and then comparing.
Becky
I think it's really cool, but it freaked me out the first few times I saw it (1st year beek) - they do it daily as far as I can tell! They don't always go in the same order either... I assumed it was orientation flights/cleansing flights<?>, and it always seems to kicks off ~5-10 minutes after the hives go into shade. (Tall treeline 50' to the west...)
 

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I had what sounds like the same thing last week. After poking around and watching a little YouTube, I decided it was orientation flights. And I'm sticking to it. But I'm a 1st year so take it for what it's worth.
 

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Sounds like it was orientation flights. Tonight, just before dinner my six year old son comes running into the house saying " Dad! One of your bee hives is swarming " I headed out to the bee yard to find a huge cloud of bees in front of one hive making orientation flights. I explained to him what they were doing and then we( my 2 year old and 6 year old) sat there and watched them for 5 min or so. I could see how if you had never saw this before that you might think they were about to swarm! It really is amazing to watch!!
 

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Retrospectively, you can tell if it's robbing or orientation (while it's happening and when you're new it's a very anxiety-inducing thing).

Orientation is a discrete event: it begins, goes on for half an hour or so, then it ends and it's as if it hadn't happened, though sometimes some bees hang out a bit outside on the walls afterward. But the circling, flying thing doesn't continue.

Robbing melees don't stop until dark drives the robbers home. But they'll be back.....

Enj.
 

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Retrospectively, you can tell if it's robbing or orientation (while it's happening and when you're new it's a very anxiety-inducing thing).

Orientation is a discrete event: it begins, goes on for half an hour or so, then it ends and it's as if it hadn't happened, though sometimes some bees hang out a bit outside on the walls afterward. But the circling, flying thing doesn't continue.

Robbing melees don't stop until dark drives the robbers home. But they'll be back.....

Enj.
X2....... you can also tell by the attitude of the bees....... they are kamikazes. Orientation bees are mellow, you cant mistake the 2 if you are it the middle of it as far as I have seen. JMO. I dont know ****. G
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Okay, so here is the video I took. Wife and I were leaving for town in the Diesel Ram when we saw this event. So I drove through the field to the hives, jumped out, no suit, big chicken that I am, and tried to film it with my phone. Wish I was brave enough to get closer! Also, this is my first video submitted to youtube. I will get better at this....I promise!
 

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Got to get closer! lol
Just a guess from another first year- orientation flights. Mine do it every afternoon or so, at least when I'm around it seems. Just go in little circles. When my hives were robbing eachtother a few weeks ago (I fixed that problem) it was totally different. "Kamikazee" runs is a great description. The obvious tell-tale sign was bees fighting, attacking eachtoher and also the bees were very, very defensive towards me. After that, I always completely suit up.
 
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