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.