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"Lost" bees after moving hive?

Discussion in 'Bee Swarms, Bee Behavior, & Bee Queens' started by LMK17, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Apr 9, 2018
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    We moved our hive from the waaaay back of our property closer to the house this weekend. We used the forced reorinentation/branch in front of the entrance method, and it seems to have largely worked. We've confirmed that we have bees returning to the new location loaded down with pollen. Yay!

    That said, we also followed the advice that I found... somewhere... and placed an empty nuc box in the old hive location to catch any bees that might have gotten confused and gone "home" to the old location. It's been 2 days. I checked the nuc box this evening and there were bees flying into it. I'm not sure if these are bees who failed to reorientate and got "lost" in their way home to the new hive location or it they were out in the field when we moved the hive and returned to find that the hive was gone. Regardless, I'd like to try and get them back to their hive.

    Any suggestions on how to get them back "home" (to the hive in the new location) and get them to accept that as their new address?
     
  2. Apr 10, 2018
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    I would close up the nuc box at night when the bees are in it and then the next morning take them to the old hive and brush them into the hive box. Worker bees are accepted wherever they are so there shouldn't be any trouble.
     
  3. Apr 10, 2018
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    So it's really as easy as just shaking the bees back into the hive? OK, cool.

    Should I put the branch back in front of the hive entrance to help reorient the "lost" workers, or can I just leave it off since most of the hive has already accepted their new location?

    Also, if worker bees are accepted wherever, why is it that the guards attack robbers? In that case, is it more an issue of the bees' behavior versus that they're "strangers" to the hive? A peaceful worker could just fly up into any old hive and be welcomed?

    As I mentioned in another post, I'm also planning to clean out some old comb in the hive. I'm wondering if there's any benefit to allowing the "lost" workers to hang out in the nuc until, say, this weekend and then using the nuc frames-- in which the bees have begun to build comb-- to replace the old frames in the hive. That way, the hive gets new but already begun comb instead of just empty foundation. Any thoughts?
     
  4. Apr 10, 2018
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    Already begun comb is always better than empty foundation but I wouldn't leave the bees in the hive as then you might end up with laying workers when they realize that they have no queen, I would reunite them ASAP.

    I guess I shouldn't say that ALL worker bees are accepted...bees know...they are smarter than us. LOL The bees identify robbers based on flight patterns and speed. The bees you are returning are going to "smell" like they belong too so that will help. In an inspection that can last half a minute, the guards check out chemical cues on the newcomer – typically hydrocarbons – that depend on hive-specific genetic factors and comb wax. If this profile matches or nearly matches that of their own hive, the guards will let the drifter in.

    I would do the branch again in front of the entrance.

    Just an FYI, when I move hives I lock them up at night and move them locked up and leave them locked up for a few days. Just make sure you have good ventilation.
     
  5. Apr 10, 2018
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    I definitely don't want laying workers, but everything I've read so far indicates it takes about 3 wks until the workers' ovaries develop to the point that they can lay. If I move them on Fri or Sat, it'll be less than 1 week separated from the main hive. I think I'll be OK from the laying worker standpoint. :hu Anyway, I unfortunately don't have time to work with the bees for the next day or two, so that'll have to do, I guess.

    We essentially did that. We had 2 days of <50 degrees and wind over the weekend, so we locked the hive down during the day but when the bees didn't seem to be flying and moved them then. We did unlock the hive right away and put a branch in front of the entrance, but hardly any bees ventured out for +/- 24 hrs since the temp remained low that whole time. When they did emerge, they seemed to reorient their positions before flying out. I can't say for sure without opening the nuc box, but I believe only a relatively small number of bees went back there. Still, I hate to lose any bees, especially since I want to divide the hive.
     
  6. Apr 11, 2018
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    I never looked at the time it takes to make a laying worker, if three weeks then I am sure you will be fine waiting. You could also lock up the nuc box at night when they are all home and just take it to the new hive and see if they co-mingle on their own. They will usually go where the queen is. I understand not wanting to lose the bees, I hate seeing stragglers out at night by a light, makes me sad. But in all actuality a field bee lives for a very short time...a few weeks as they are already "middle aged" when they become field bees. Most things I have read say that losing a few field bees won't matter in the long run. But I still understand wanting to save them all.
     
  7. Apr 12, 2018
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    I tried moving the nuc to the hive without disturbing the bees otherwise. I locked up the nuc last evening and just carried it over to the new location. I'm not planning to open the hives until this weekend, but this morning it looked like most of the bees who were out were heading into the main hive, so maybe the co-mingling thing worked. Or maybe all the workers are back hanging out at the old location again. I haven't checked that yet!