I presume when bees swarm they cannot carry much food with them. What do they eat while swarming, and how long do they have before they must establish a new hive and start producing food (honey, pollen, etc.)? Do they get involved in robbing?
That's a good question. I Think they don't eat much of anything until they move into a new location. They fill up before leaving - if it takes too long to find a place they get grumpy - I assume from hunger.
From everything I've heard and read....the honey in their stomachs.....that's all they have. I believe I heard Tom Seeley say that with the exception of scouts looking for a nesting site, the remaining bees in the swarm slow their metabolism to conserve energy.
I've seen some pics of drawn comb with bees, just hanging on bushes and trees without
protection, as in a box or hole of some kind,,,,
Maybe if they can't find something suitable quick enough, they set up camp right there
making comb and honey and babies??? Just a thought...
Before leaving the hive, swarming bees fill their honey stomachs w/ honey. That's why they are so easily handled and not easy to sting. They can last three to five days on that honey before establishing a new home. A Dry Swarm is a swarm hanging on a tree which has consumed all of the honey in their honey stomachs, which makes them quite testy. That's why one should always have a veil on or nearby when dealing w/ a swarm, because you might not know how long that swarm has been hanging there or when it left home.
If a swarm is stationary beyond the food reserves that they are carrying with them, they do start foraging - but if they remain stationary, that long, they're also likely to just, set up house, at that location - even if it is somewhat exposed for a nesting site. Which is likely, why, when they do move, it is usually very early in the day (so they don't leave many foragers, behind).
Though, if they're to the point of foraging, they're not likely to remain engorged, like they were initially.
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