Friday, August 24, 2012

Bees swarming or kicking out a failing queen?

Perhaps it started last evening at 5:30PM. I went out in the yard and found what looked like an extra big orientation flight, like the bees do during spring build. Summer flights are usually smaller as the brood grows more slowly when there is not much food for them. For those of you that did not know what a orientation flight is, it is what the bees do at about 3 weeks of age. They are now ready to become forager bees and the orientation flight is done in front of the hive so the bees can orient on where the hive is so they can return safely. Bees might forage 2 miles away so knowing where home is is very important!

So these bees were giving me the impression they were getting ready to swarm, but I have never seen a swarm coming out of a hive at the beginning. I looked skyward and did not see any bees leaving the area, nor building up in greater numbers. Was heading to the Caswell County Beekeepers club meeting so I had to leave.

This is a video of the bees in front of the hive that evening. I got stung in the forehead just as I finished videotaping this.

Jump forward to 2pm the next day. I'm waiting for an animal control officer to show up, yep I called them about the neighbors, some of you might recall last year? Next post I'll fill you in. So anyway I'm in the yard and look at some extra bees in the air, then on the ground I see a small handful of bees. I look closer and see a queen bee, this is 15 foot from the hive mentioned above. See in the video below.
I look around more bees moving in the grass, air and I find a slightly bigger cluster of bees. So I grabbed them by hand and looked for another queen as I drop them into an empty hive box. No queen in this bigger pile of bees. Here is a video of the second cluster of bees.
So I then grab up the other bees, no I let her crawl onto my hand, then I dropped her into the hive box. Only a few bees pay her any attention. I then notice she has a broken wing and is dragging one of her hind legs. Question is did the bees swarm last evening and she had a bad bad night? Or did the bees expel her after superseding her with a fresh new queen? Or had she been stung by a new queen? The hive appeared to still be full of bees. One clue I have that says we had a swarm is the writing spider web in the tomato plant had 15 balled up bees in the web, yes 15 not the normal day for a spider in an out of the bee flight path place. This video has the queen in the center of the bees, near the end you can see she is damaged.
Left to meet customers and Meg and I ate dinner out. We got back just before dark and found the bees clustering over her right where I left her on the ground below the hive.  I think she fell off the landing board before I left at 2PM. Here they are in this short video, I then covered them with a hive cover for the night as it was starting to sprinkle.




17 comments:

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

This sounds like a soap opera. 'The Life of the Queen' hahah. I can hear the voice over...did the queen get thrown out in favor of a new queen? Just amazing.
We were out this afternoon and saw three loose goats on the roadside. These goats had LONG horns and were tall, I would say their backs were my waist high. They were on the slope of a rural road, across from a boat ramp. On our way home we saw no evidence of the goats, hope they found their way home.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

It is definitely that time of year when the weak/injured/failing Queens are superseded. I suspect you may find some evidence of supersedure cells in the source hive. In the long run, your bees should be stronger for it through the winter. Are you still seeing plenty of drones in your apiary? Our drones tend to get booted from the hives by early August, which can make supersedure a risky proposition for our bees this time of year. Now I'm curious about your animal control story...

Randy Emmitt said...

Janet,

I believe the queen tried to swarm but failed to realize she was barely capable of flying. Hopefully the hive has a new superceded queen in the hive. Changing queens this time of year should help break the mite cycle as they live in brood and they will be broodless for a period.

Clare,

I saw one drone being tossed out about 3 weeks ago. This hive I combined last weekend had lots of drones, laying worker or the failed queen just could not get her act together.

Q said...

I enjoy your bee stories so very much!
Day 89 of the drought of 2012...I pray for rain.
Sherry

tina said...

Poor queen.

Kim and Victoria said...

Wow! Too bad you can't get a bee interpreter! Crazy stuff. Hope it all turns out well. And I imagine your new story concerns those neighbor goats...

best gardening tools said...

your bees video is super and post is good to read. Although be careful on bees.

Mil said...

Hope things get straightened out in the hive. Already I'm thinking about winter for our hives...

Patrick's Garden said...

Hey Randy,
I really enjoyed this treatise on bees and loved the videos. You're a braver man then I to be going around bees without protection./ Always wanted a hive but fear of getting
stung all
ll the bees. Also, don' you think
think it would be palatable in the middle of suburbia. Don't you think?

VOGTHORSTAR said...

it will be interesting to see if there is any fresh brood from her in a week.. she seems very frail. I wonder if she was ejected by her own girls fro a new queen. sad..but possible.. please let us know how she progresses in her exile..

VOGTHORSTAR said...

@ Patrick- Get bees! don't fear them.. love them.. adn they will benefit your garden and yourlife.. They know their keepers... Randy is an exellent example of that.. Our garden and farm is so much more alive with our bees. the Citrus and vegetables and even the wild asters are so much happier and productive now that we have bees.. Don't have fear.. have faith...

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