Bees absconded so close to winter?

Hi everyone hope your bees are all settled down for the winter. I am a uk based beekeeper in the south east, Iv had two flow hives for 3 yrs now had varying success now between swarms and cold snaps it’s been testing but had a good crop this year from one hive and everything looked good going into winter. I had done some varroa treatments after the harvest and both hives felt like they were strong enough with stores and good numbers. There was no sign of mites or distress from both hives they both seemed like they would cope going into the cold snaps. In mid November my brother noticed a lot flying around the hive one day few hours later they seemed to go back into the hive. A few weeks later we opened up the hive to check them on a warm day and discovered they had all gone. We had 10 frames all drawn out no stores of honey but some pollen and some brood capped and uncapped. Looked like some very young dead bees in the bottom maybe born after they left only 20-30. No sign of mites or any other issues. The Other hive which is next to it still going strong. Just wondered if there was any reason they would leave or anything we did wrong as it was so close to the winter months. I can’t upload the video because it won’t accept it unfortunately but it looks like 100-150 bees flying frantically around the hive a few settled on the back by the vents. It was defiantly jumper weather.
Any help would be appreciated.

The way to do it is this:

  1. Upload your video to YouTube
  2. Make sure that you set it to “Public”
  3. Post the YouTube share link here

Bingo, we can all watch it!


Hi Kev,

This is unusual absconding usually come as a result of a major disturbance.

The only thing I can think of is maybe a wind chill that the bees were not fond of. Did you have an entrance reducer in place or ensure the ventilation was set to closed?

But check over the pest and disease fact files here, to help in autopsying the hive. If you cant get that video to us, was there and brood left or honey stores?

Hey thanks for your reply. I can’t seem to upload the video via my phone so i will try over you tube on my computer. Or add a video hear. Weirdly it wasn’t too windy for the time of year and the vents were closed no entrance reducer but the entrance is set close to a hedge away from the wind. No honey stores left but some small brood capped on two frames with pollen stores about 50 dead baby bees that would have hatched after they left dead in the bottem of the hive. Video is bellow if it works.
Thank you for the response xx

(Attachment is missing)

You can’t do that directly. Only via YouTube. Honestly! I have been here for 6 years, and I know from multiple experiences…


Sorry yeah thought it was just an email chain :blush: x

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No problem. Peace to all, especially in these times



Ill chat to IT would be nice to see this made available within the forum.


So disaster has struck now in the depths of winter here in the uk my second hive has absconded. It’s such a blow to my year and to have lost the hives I have been caring for I’m just hoping some
Answers can be found. I was doing some inspections early December, when I say inspections I just checked the hive lifting up the roof a little to see if I could see bees and it was full of them. Seemed to be enough stores due to the weight of the brood box and the supplement feed so I’m concerned by why in about 8 weeks of each other that two of my hives have absconded within the depths of winter. I still can’t upload my
Video onto YouTube so what I will do is post some Pictures of the hives and frames
And see if anyone has any idea about
What has happened.
Thanks for your time and happy new year to all your bees and keepers xx

That’s awful, I’m sorry Kev. Yes please do post some pics when you can. Maybe there will be some clues.

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You’ve got me worried now. I am in Portugal and I have had no success for 2 years either. Finally, after a new swarm decided to occupy my hive in March, they are thriving. It is 15 degs C max right now and 8 at night. The hive is very busy bringing in loads of pollen and I have noticed a number of drones flying in and out. I haven’t opened up for a few weeks because we have had huge amounts of rain but, by my calculations (numbers going in and out) the hive has between 21000 and 24000 bees. That is nearly full for a single langstroth brood box. My question is: should I leave them be and hope that they keep their numbers down to an acceptable level or do I anticipate needing to put on a flow super or medium super long before spring? I would hate to have to lose the hive for the third year running. There is no varroa, by the way, and they have dealt with the few wax moths that were present last month. If they swarm then I do have an empty brood box to ‘catch and release’ into, but I would rather not have two colonies freezing themselves to death. Ok, so the Iberiansis variant is quite weather resistant but I have never had full success here so I have nothing to measure against

You could try nadiring. If you are worried about chilling any brood, place a box underneath but without the QX as you have drones coming in and out.

thanks Karby. Maybe I will

I’m sorry to hear that your bees have absconded. It can be frustrating and concerning when this happens, especially when it’s close to winter.

There are a number of possible reasons why bees might abscond, and it can be difficult to pinpoint the specific cause in a given situation. Some possible reasons for absconding include:

  • A queen who is not laying enough eggs or is not producing viable eggs
  • A lack of stores or food for the bees
  • A buildup of pests or diseases within the hive
  • Poor ventilation or other problems with the hive itself

It’s also possible that the bees simply made a mistake and ended up in the wrong hive. This can happen when the bees get disoriented or when there are multiple hives in close proximity to each other.

Without more information or the opportunity to examine the hive and the bees directly, it’s difficult to say for sure what caused your bees to abscond. I recommend consulting with a local beekeeping association or an experienced beekeeper to get specific advice and guidance based on your situation.