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I get the biological imperative to reproduce and spread genetics and how the swarm works to accomplish these things. What I am curious about is who actually goes on the swarm?

I have always explained it as "the queen and a few of her closest friends." But as I was thinking about it, there are certainly bees that can't actually go on the swarm anyway,right? Obviously, the queen can go. Field bees (foragers and scouts) can certainly go too. Do house bees, or nurse bees? I assume they can't. When they fall out of the hive through my carelessness or moving too quick, they don't fly back in, they crawl all the way back up the cinder bricks and across the hive bodies to find the entrance. I just assume they are not really good fliers or aren't ready yet. However, swarms build wax like a son-of-a-gun and I thought it was the nurse and house bees that were the major wax makers. Anyway, just wanting to understand what is actually happening.
 

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However, swarms build wax like a son-of-a-gun and I thought it was the nurse and house bees that were the major wax makers. Anyway, just wanting to understand what is actually happening.
Under various conditions, older bees can revert to doing the job of younger bees...for a time, it doesn't make them live any longer.
 

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Under various conditions, older bees can revert to doing the job of younger bees...for a time, it doesn't make them live any longer.
This also make sense, since it seems to be the strategy of the fly back split, right? The hive left in the original position that gets all the foragers back, apparently counts on them to revert to nursing and wax building and so on. Makes perfect sense.
 

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I am thinking there must be some of the older nurse bees that took their first flight because when a swarm flies out to a nearby limb then the swarm returns some go right back in the main entrance but some will be hanging on the bottom, side or back of the hive. I can run my fingers through them and there is no agression like they want to stay together but don't remember where their hive entrance is. Just my theory, I don't remember if this has been proven or proven false.
 

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Or maybe there's not any nurse bees in the swarm but their impulse to stay together overrides good sense.
 

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That swarm away cohort is the "sweet spot" of the cross-section of the all the colony bees - predominantly young foragers.

The young foragers are the bees that can do everything - they can nurse the brood; generate wax and build combs; forage.
These are the very best bees that fly away (living behind the very young and the too old generations).
And this makes total sense because the swarm is expected to build their new home from zero, collect the short-term survival stores (and the winter stores too), and do so very quickly if they are to survive.
 
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