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Moving Hives, observations and a theory

 
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Robee
Scout Bee


Joined: 15 Jan 2008
Posts: 326
Location: USA, Augusta County, Virginia

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:50 am    Post subject: Moving Hives, observations and a theory Reply with quote

Since first keeping hives, I have read, and been told that if you move a hive, it must be no more than 2 feet or more than 2 miles. Some people change that number to 3. I have moved hives 25 feet before and I usually prop something against the hive front, or hang a branch over the entrance forcing them to have to go around it, hence making them re-orientate themselves to the hive. No problem here.
My observation, if I move a hive, for a couple of days, some bees leave and still return to the old spot and buzz around looking for that missing hive. They do this whether I force the re-orientation or not.
My thoughts or theory now is this:
If bees are that stupid, I believe if you move them 10 miles away, they will do the same thing. I mean, some are going to leave the hive, and not know where their hive is when it is time to return home. My guess would be that no matter where you move the hive, there are going to be some lost and confused bees that never make it back to the hive.
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

but all your doing is guessing

ok, lets look at it from a bees point of view

1, bee fly's out of entrance, nothing has changed/moved, so go's about duties as normal

2, bee fly's out entrance, area has changed, be it location, or a branch over entrance, does a quick orientation flight to re set internal gps then carries on as normal

3, the "branch idea"" was because the new location was less than 3 miles, so on foraging flights, bee recognises foraging areas, and therefore a percentage of the foragers end up back at the old location

4, the new location was more than 3 miles, therefore whilst foraging, no old landmarks are seen, therefore all bees return to the new location

now I aint guessed any of that,
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Robee
Scout Bee


Joined: 15 Jan 2008
Posts: 326
Location: USA, Augusta County, Virginia

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And there is proof of this how? because the only proof of this that I have seen is people insisting that the bees know how to get back to their hive if you move it a great distance.
I think the reason I question this is because I have moved hives across the yard and used the branch on some, and not used it on others. The next day, at the old location, there is always a couple hundred bees flying around. Either way, doesn't seem to make a difference. Day 2, about half that amount and usually day 3 there is still just a few.
Who can say it is a proven fact that if they move the hive 3 miles, they all make it home these first few days?
And remember, I stated what I said as theory, because it came from my observations only.
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the natural world, of course, bee homes stay put, save for a little swaying to and fro and the occasional traumatic demolition by wind or by storm. So they do not expect their 'tree' to move sideways by more than a foot or two, and they certainly don't expect it to move to the other side of the forest while they are out foraging.

So it would be reasonable to conclude that bees are unlikely to have evolved the ability to locate their home if it is moved by, say, 20 feet, or 200 feet. However, they do have an exceptional sense of smell, and it would not, I think, be unreasonable to presume that under fair conditions and shorter distances, a number of bees would find their way home by flying round in ever-increasing circles until they caught its scent.

If the hive was moved beyond their habitual foraging grounds and there was no overlap - which would be a minimum of 6 miles in a flattish landscape - then I would suggest the likelihood of any given bee finding her old hive is extremely small.

However, given that the bees' navigation close to the hive appears to be based on a visual memory of the territory around it, then if something radically changes - such as a leafy branch suddenly appearing out of nowhere, or (as I use) the entrance is stuffed with grass, and the sun is in a different position than it used to be relative to the entrance - then such an event is likely to trigger the bees' 'something important has changed' detectors and cause it to re-orient itself immediately.

They are smart, but only within a limited range of behaviours.
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bentonkb
New Bee


Joined: 21 Jul 2014
Posts: 3
Location: Prince Edward County, Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently moved a small colony about 60 feet and shifted all the combs from a Lang deep into a long hive box. Switching to a new shape box with a different entrance seemed like enough of a change to me, so I skipped the branch in front. Several hundred bees were searching around the original site, so I replaced the (now empty) Lang deep in the orignial spot. Many bees seemed to be flying back and forth between the old location and the new one for the rest of the afternoon, so I was prepared to use the deep as a trap to help the foragers move into the new location. My plan was to plug the opening after dark each night and move the box to the new location for a few nights.

The strange thing is that the Lang deep was empty (no bees at all) on the first night. On the second day there were still lots of bees flying between the two locations, but none tried to spend the night in the old location. By the third day everything had settled down and I took the Lang away from the old location for good.

Did the bees that were visiting the old site eventually make it into my new hive (60 feet from the old location) or is more likely that they drifted into the nearby feral colony (only 10 feet from the old location)? I feel like I read something about this in Honeybee Democracy, but I don't own a copy of the book to look it up.
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Robee
Scout Bee


Joined: 15 Jan 2008
Posts: 326
Location: USA, Augusta County, Virginia

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bentonkb,
You have my curiosity up about this.
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

how lucky can you get, a new member joins the very day you put your views up about the bees and confirms your theory is correct on his first post, rather than introducing themselves first Laughing
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stevecook172001
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Jul 2013
Posts: 443
Location: Loftus, Cleveland

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Robee has made a point, though, that has not been fully addressed. That is to say, if a hive is moved 20 feet, we can clearly see that a small but significant number of bees will try and go to the hive's original spot because it is in full sight. If a hive is moved more than 3 miles, however, it may still be the case that a small but significant number of them make a similar mistake, but we don’t get to see it so easily because they are not mistakenly going to a single visible spot. Instead, they may be dispersing more or less randomly around the local area. Robee's point, I think, is that there is no easy way to establish this does not happen. We may be simply assuming it does not because we are not seeing a significant number of bees mistakenly congregating in one spot.

An obvious way to test the above would be to run a controlled experiment with (1) a hive moved 100 feet, (2) another hive moved 5 miles and (3) a third hive not moved at all. Each hive's colony should be weighed both before moving and then again a few days after moving. If the 3 foot/3 mile rule holds, then we should see an unchanged weight of colony for hive (2) and hive (3) and only see a reduction in weight for hive (1). If the 3 foot/3 mile rule is erroneous, then we should see a similar reduction in weight for hive (1) and hive (2), with only hive (3)'s colony weight remaining constant. If the second weight measurement was taken within the first few days of moving, then differences of foraging and other environmental conditions which may lead to more or less rapid growth of colony should be fairly minimal.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1563
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with your suggestion Steve is that it doesn't take into account the weight of forage that they will bring in over those 3 days which could be significantly heavier than the bees that are lost. Bees are light, nectar is heavy, so the slight difference in loss of bees could easily be made up for by forage and over the 3 hives the forage rate will vary according to locality and also, of course, the number of bees in the first place and their strength, status and disposition. Getting 3 hives that are the same size and will behave the same manner in the same apiary is difficult enough without moving their location.
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Robee
Scout Bee


Joined: 15 Jan 2008
Posts: 326
Location: USA, Augusta County, Virginia

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stevecook172001 wrote:
I think Robee has made a point, though, that has not been fully addressed. That is to say, if a hive is moved 20 feet, we can clearly see that a small but significant number of bees will try and go to the hive's original spot because it is in full sight. If a hive is moved more than 3 miles, however, it may still be the case that a small but significant number of them make a similar mistake, but we don’t get to see it so easily because they are not mistakenly going to a single visible spot. Instead, they may be dispersing more or less randomly around the local area. Robee's point, I think, is that there is no easy way to establish this does not happen. We may be simply assuming it does not because we are not seeing a significant number of bees mistakenly congregating in one spot.

You put my thoughts well. Very Happy I think whoever came up with the little "beehive moving rule" somehow just thinks this doesn't happen. We moved a hive, I guess it was about 50 feet, and removed the hive next to it, and it was placed miles away. This was done in the dark and the branch thing was not even thought about by the time we were done. It has been about a week and as of yesterday, all hives seem to be doing well, and there was still a small number of bees flying around the old location.
I am not sure some things can be easily proved but I can add that proven or not, this has been a fun discussion. Very Happy
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Robee
Scout Bee


Joined: 15 Jan 2008
Posts: 326
Location: USA, Augusta County, Virginia

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dexter's shed wrote:
how lucky can you get, a new member joins the very day you put your views up about the bees and confirms your theory is correct on his first post, rather than introducing themselves first Laughing

I hadn't noticed that. Ha!
bentonkb, Welcome! go ahead and do an introduction, then maybe check in at the local groups site and somewhere there you might even find a link to the facebook groups site for Virginia. WildflowerVa pointed it out to me.
Found it for you. https://www.facebook.com/groups/Virginiatbh/
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stevecook172001
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Jul 2013
Posts: 443
Location: Loftus, Cleveland

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
The problem with your suggestion Steve is that it doesn't take into account the weight of forage that they will bring in over those 3 days which could be significantly heavier than the bees that are lost....


I suppose that could be accounted for by shaking the bees out and just measuring them (or measuring the hive without the bees in it and then deducting the excess weight gained). Though, that's too brutal for my taste to merely settle such an issue


Last edited by stevecook172001 on Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:50 am; edited 2 times in total
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Robee
Scout Bee


Joined: 15 Jan 2008
Posts: 326
Location: USA, Augusta County, Virginia

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, that would be brutal! HA!
I haven't even looked into a brood nest part of a hive for at least 3 years. I am a, "Leave them alone and let them do their own thing" kind of beekeeper.
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andy pearce
Silver Bee


Joined: 30 Aug 2009
Posts: 663
Location: UK, East Sussex, Brighton

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slightly associated...I left a super which I thought covered by solid boards top and bottom 30 metres from my home apiary. Being home I thought it fine to leave it til the evening when I had time to deal with it...by the evening there were hundreds of bees getting into the crack I had inadvertently left. The honey was taken in that evening when the last of the lurkers were scooted off. What was interesting was that there were significant returners and lurkers at that spot for five days afterwards. There was no spillage of honey.

Last year I reported on daytime lurkers in my bait hives a long time after the swarming season was over. Not measuring or checking but sitting about during the day and leaving in the evening.
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