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Bees and storms!


#1

Hi all,

Summer here near Sydney Australia. Cool day and some intermittent storms this afternoon. I was trimming lawn edges and noticed a storm getting closer…then I noticed much increased bee activity at the hive entrance…see photos.


Ordinarily there would be about half a dozen bees leaving and arriving (5-6pm) at this time but on this occasion dozens of them started pouring out the front door and sat on the front of the hive. Dozens of others started flying in circles near the hive up to about house roof height. Also it seemed that a couple of bees on the entrance board were running in fast little circles, not sure if that means anything :blush:

Here they are zooming around near the hive…

The bee activity precluded stormy rain by about 15 minutes. When the rain hit they all went back inside the hive.

Is this normal pre-storm behaviour? Any comments on storms and bees appreciated.

FYI Our hive is only a few weeks old, first new workers should have hatched only a few days ago so it’s not bursting at the seams.

…and this shows the lawn edge…the edges take me ages so it’s nice that someone else might see them lol.


#2

Perhaps they were just orientation flights grabbed quickly before the rain. I have lots of times been watching the bees while I sat under a blue sky and suddenly see masses hurtling in at breakneck speed only for the heavens to open. Smart things, bees


#3

Sounds and looks like orientation flights.
I noticed bees don’t mind whipper snipping (brush cutting) near the hive just before a storm.


#4

you will see several times a day short periods of increased activity like this. Most of my hives do this some time around 12 to 2 pm. It is cleansing time I think- where the inside nurser bees all come out to take a poop?


#5

Probably orientation flights. I can always bet on a storm when there is only one way traffic into the hive. They just pour on right up to the beginning of the storm.

Cheers
Rob.


#6

@Semaphore Jack…interesting. I’m in Perth and you’re in Adelaide (or thereabouts), and my bees typically undertake their orientation flights in that same time window (I wonder if that’s a common time of day for everyone??).

I also think (loose observations) that it is also the time for a ‘shift change’; it’s just not the flights around the entrance and general proximity that increase but also the bees returning. Consequently, all my inspections are planned to be completed before 12noon or start after 2pm. Oh, that and not on windy days…they get really unhappy if I open the hive on a windy day…


#7

Hey all,

Thanks one and all for your helpful comments, I like this forum, very handy and friendly.

I gotta say I was a bit nervous when they started zooming around like pre-storm maniacs. I actually have a great iPhone 7 ‘slo-mo’ video of 2 bees colliding at speed and spinning out of control…but it doesn’t seem to run on other platforms…

…but anyways back on topic I think what I saw looked a lot like the big original orientation flight a few weeks ago but on a smaller scale. I appreciate you all putting my mind at ease that this stuff happens and it’s fine.

I have had to go to Bombala for a job for a couple of days, hopefully all is well with our little buzzy girls so my wife doesn’t have any drama to deal with :wink:

Thanks again all good job.

Aaron


#8

They do them most days


#9

Thanks Dee I’m learning more and more every day thanks to the bees and flow forum advice!


#10

One way to post videos is by creating a video and uploading to Youtube.
You can then shre your Youtube link on the forum and we will be able to see it :slight_smile:


#11

Thanks Faroe for the tip :white_check_mark:


#12

G’day Aaron, Your post caught my attention, as similar behaviour was exhibited by my hive here in Perth, W.A. as well on the weekend we had our downpour.
Getting too close to the hive was not recommended as they were very aggressive. When the stormy weather was over, I noticed lots of confused bees on the entrance board, they couldn’t fly because their wings were wet and they seemed very confused. Later on in the day, they died and the workers simply pushed them off the board. This went on for two days, I thought bugger that’s the end of my hive, but the third day things seemed to settle down and the fourth, things back to normal. Weird.


#13

Thanks itchyvet that’s interesting…and good news that your hive survived. This is our first hive so it’s difficult to know what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not.

It occurred to me that during the week I probably spend about 10-20 minutes every day watching the hive pretty closely, a few minutes before work and similar in the afternoon…which means there’s plenty of hours that I don’t see their behaviour.

Weekends we see a lot more but it’s still going to take a while for us to be able to comfortably identify unusual behaviour.

Really enjoying this hobby though, so relaxing and rewarding.


#14

G’day Aaron. My first time as well. Dunno whether I can attest to it’s “relaxing and rewarding” just yet.
I keep worrying about the health and well being of my hive, especially after seeing the dead ones ditched outside and the aggressive behaviour recently.
Also, it’s taking quiet some time for them to become established on the frames in the hive. A this stage, they have only established themselves on TWO frames, leaving 8 still empty. Gave up with the flow hive on top, have now removed that and wont put it back until at least HALF the brood frames are established.


#15

Hey Eddy thanks for the reply.

Wow I reckon you might have a problem with your bees…we established our hive about 5 or 6 weeks ago and the frames are getting pretty full of action. And they have never been aggressive at all. We don’t need smoke to open them up and check frames. On Saturday just gone we took out the frame feeder which was taking up the space of a frame…and instead put the last frame in. So of the 7 frames that have been there for some weeks…2 or 3 of them are almost all capped with brood and pollen and honey (patterns look good) and for the other 3 or 4 frames the wax cells are all drawn out and there is sporadic action in those cells. And although we’ve never seen the queen, the population is visibly climbing and we saw pupae/larvae in many cells on Saturday.

We can sit right near the hive and watch them with no dramas…not sure how ‘normal’ that is haha.

We plan to add the flow hive ‘super’ when about 80% of the brood box is full (as per guidance from most beekeepers I’ve chatted to).

Good luck mate, it’s an interesting hobby that’s for sure :slight_smile:


#16

Hi Itchyvet, As you can see I’m only a newbie too but I reckon your girls are working too hard in that space. From what I’ve read you probably need to put the two frames back into a smaller box (nuc) or similar and let them build it up before transferring to a full box.
I’d forget the flow box for now as well, it is likely way too much space and your bees are expending all their time and energy keeping the place warm/cool. They will be able to do that better in a much smaller space.

I followed Dawn’s advice re adding the box and waited until all frames were drawn out, all had bees on them and about 80% of the cells in use. They moved straight up into the flow frames (with bees wax rubbed on it) and started work on them.


#17

Yep…I concur, mostly. Bees make honey as a surplus.
You need ALL the frames drawn in the brood box.
80% covered in brood and ALL frames busy with bees
No wonder they remain small. You have put a small team in an entire stadium.
Are there any bee clubs near you where you can get a course under your belt and some one to one help? Failing that Beekeeping for Dummies is not the worst beekeeping book in the world and will tell you how bees work. Good luck


#18

Hi,
I have noticed that our bees pile up outside on those hot evenings. I have put a shade cloth on a frame over the top - I have lost it a couple of times with big winds but the bees don’t seem to care - nor did they care when the hive was tipped over - probably by a sheep. Luckily the strapping stayed in place!
We live out in the country - the apiarist who uses our place as one of his sites installed the flow hive and gave me a brood box and top box with honey in it for food for them - so now the flow hive sits in the middle so it is quite tall.
Our apiarist has been such a hive of information and instruction! Very generous with his time when he has such a huge patch to cover. He was intrigued by the flow form as he hadn’t seen one.
First harvests in the last couple of months - the honey is light and delicious and the bees just didn’t get fussed at all.


#19

Hi Aaron - just thought I’d say, I love your edges! Your garden looks lovely. Well done! Oh, and I notice the same behaviour with my bees. Bees know things…


#20

Haha thanks Shelley edges are a thankless job :smile: We put in a thick fat sir Walter buffalo lawn a little while ago and it takes ages to cut those edges, gotta do em every week!