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I'm pretty new to beekeeping so forgive me if this questions sounds amateurish, but I'm hoping someone can clue me in to the really odd behavior my bees exhibited yesterday. While I was working with some other hives every single bee in my most productive hive suddenly flew out of the hive and onto a branch high on tree about 30 feet away from their hive. They clustered there although I could see a lot of them flying around the branch. They stayed that way for about 30 minutes and then, just as suddenly as they flew away, they all returned to their hive.

For a while I thought maybe they were queenless so I looked all over for her. I found her on the ground with a mass of workers right in front of the hive. I gently picked her up and placed her on top of a frame and she ducked down safely into the frame.

Any idea what that was all about?! :s
 

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It's awful late in the season for swarming, but to me that sounds initially like an absconding or swarming colony whose queen has a clipped wing. Is your queen clipped?
 

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No, that's the other weird thing. I bought this colony this past spring as a package that initially had a clipped and marked queen. However the queen there now is neither clipped nor marked. So something happened to the original queen and this one is the new lady of the house.

Is it possible that she is a newly hatched queen and this little flight of theirs was her maiden mating flight?
 

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sounds more like absconding to me..... my observation hive did the same thing this year, I thought they were swarming one day but they all returned to the hive, then about two weeks later they absconded, every single bee abandond ship, it wasnt obvious at first just looking through the glass but when I opened it up small have beetles scurried out of every single nook and cranny.
 

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This is indeed strange activity. It also happened to one of my hives this summer. One of the few times I've seen it in over 50 years of beekeeping. In this case, it seems to have coincided with the supercedure of their queen. Following this "activity" it produced a decent amount of honey for a supercedured hive. It presently has quite a large population of "winter" bees. Will split it in the spring. OMTCW
 

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I have seen bees leave the hive but only return three times ,most of the times it was because of ants in the hive, the times they returned I had shb in with the bees,maybe they remove the shbs that way.good luck rock.
 
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