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Bees clustered together in garden, below hive, cannot fly


Hi, I’m reasonably new to bee keeping. I live on the east coast of NSW, Australia.we bought our first nuc in January 2017. By the end of Feb. the brood box was overflowing with bees, honey and some capped brood. The bees seemed very busy and happy and there was oodles of honey. We placed the flow super on top of brood box in early March. Did an inspection 5 days ago, all seemed fine. Waxing had begun in the flow super and some honey. 2 days after inspection we started to notice clumps of bees clustered together in the garden under the hive - they are unable to fly. I collected these bees but I noticed the following day there were more bees clustered together in the garden, they are dropping off the entry to the hive. Is anyone else experiencing this strange behaviour? We have had a very hot summer this year and although the weather is now quite a bit cooler we have had torrential rain for over a week. Would be grateful for any advise. Thanks Jude.


Hiya busy. Any pictures? Are there many dead bees on the ground? What did you paint your super with?


Hi Skeggly, thanks for your reply. I painted the outside of brood box and flow hive at the same time with a uv outdoor acrylic paint, a good 6 weeks before the bees were introduced to brood box and at least another two months before we added the super. We have not treated the inside of either box. The flow frames were washed in a mild soapy water, thoroughly incessant and dried and sprayed lightly with a 50:50 sugar water solution just before super was added th the brood box. I cannot see any dead bees, but it is a very busy garden so may be missing them or they have been eaten. As I mentioned on my post I did remove the first lot I found and isolated them from the hive, most of those died some crawled out of the confine but still did not fly. Then another at least 50 clumping the next day. I am very worried about them. Tried to upload a photo but no success


Could they be drones that are being kicked out of the hive?


I’m wondering if the bees outside the hive are bees that got kicked out of the hive because of old age etc. It could be part of the hive’s house cleaning during all of that torrential rain.


Ooh, I hadn’t thought of that, will go down and have another closer look. I’m thinking there are no greater numbers at this stage. There seems to be an increase as the day comes to a close, will update later today. Thanks for your suggestion. Would be very happy if it turns out that is what it is and not anything more serious. Again, thanks Wilillunga Range, will get back to you on that. Cheers.


Thanks for your thoughts Jeff, I am very positive it is a happy, busy hive, so was quiet shocked to see this behaviour suddenly. I think what you are saying makes perfect sense. Will try and sit on my concern for a couple of days and just observe them. Such amazing creatures, I hate to see them distressed.
Will post my observations. Cheers.


Hi Jude, no problems. When you consider that the queen is laying x # of eggs daily, x # of bees are doing orientation flights. x # of bees will die on a daily basis. If the bees can’t go out foraging for quite a few days on account of heavy rain, it stands to reason that they will die close to home.


Certainly peculiar. The bees in the pic having a pow wow seem quite hairy so don’t seem to be that old and worn out. The rain does seem to be the obvious factor. Does the roof leak?
Interested to see how this pans out, thanks for sharing.


Hi Skeggly,
The roof does not appear to be leaking. Have been sitting quietly just observing. When the sun is high on the area where they are clumping they are not there, so what happens to them, from my observation they cannot fly are they being eaten-lots of lizards around. At the end of Their foraging day when it is very busy at the entry to the hive, bees start dropping off the hive onto ground below. Starts all over again, they end up in garden below hive ( 2 mtrs. Below)they scramble across a very busy garden and clump up on some raised wooden structure. Still there next morning but gone again by approx 12md. More pics.


Just an update on the bees. After 4 days of quite observation I am no wiser on what was happening to my bees. Three of those days we had lovely sunshine and the bees were about there business as normal. Each evening, the number of clustered bees in the garden was less. The last two days things seem back to normal. No bees left in the garden overnight - not sure if they were able to get back to hive or they died. We are now back to heavy rain most of the day and night so I will wait and see if the cycle starts again. My only other thought is perhaps they picked up something toxic to them while out foraging - either plant or pesticide. I have spoken to neighbours both sides of our property x 2 about bees and pesticides, they are on board with us. Perhaps further a field though? Thank you so much to you all for your interest and advise, really appreciate your input. Cheers Jude.