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Dead bees on ground near hives


I have two full flow hive that I installed NUCS in a week ago…The hives are on my second floor balcony…

I am a new beekeeper and trying to figure out what “normal” is as it relates to bee behavior…

I am noticing that there are 10-15 dead bees on the floor near the hives every day…Is this normal? If not, what would cause this? I have inspected the bees and they are normal, no defects…

The other thing I am noticing is that the bees are zipping in and out of the hives most of the day, but at about 3:45pm- 4:00pm daily a much, much larger group of bees form around the hives, they are so loud I can hear them buzz inside the house…it’s like a mini swarm, then after about 20-30 minutes everything goes back to normal again…This happens daily… Is this normal behavior, and can anyone explain this behavior?

Thank you!


I will look for others to reply as well, the bees only live 3 to 5 weeks. And they clean out the hive i.e. bead bee and drop them just outside the entrance.

As for the swarming around 3:45 PM, the bees that have been gone all day are just now coming back with pollen and nectar before going out one more time. Fairly common

You installed the NUC about a week ago, Just the bottom brood box correct not the flow super on top yet, Correct.


Sounds like orientation flights to me, though they might peak a bit earlier in the afternoon. Could also be the return of the drones (or both).

@Marty: Why would the bees be making one last collecting trip at 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon (unless it’s late fall and the sun is about to set)?


Yes just the Brood Box, no Flow Super yet…My plan is to add a second Brood box after the current Brood boxes are about 80% full…I have no idea how long that will take…I just need to keep an eye on it…

Thanks, I was thinking the dead bees would be normal…Very interesting…I did not realize that the bees forage all day…I thought they went back and forth throughout the day…So do they make only one trip or or does it vary depending on the availability of nectar?

Also, do they need to find water while foraging? I don’t have a water source really close to the hives…should I go out of my way to keep water available nearby, or do the bees take care of that?


LOL, it was a guess, that is why I said will be looking for others to comment :slight_smile: I learn by being corrected. Mine do the same about same time. so by them coming in and doing a orientation flight, they are coming in from collection and telling others where to go. No other time in the day do I see this many bee’s in front of the hive. So I read that as them coming and going back out. and since it does not happen any other time Hmmmm.


I read that a water source is good to provide. I remember somthing about 20 feet away is good. So I put a small Fountain with lava rock so they don’t drown. Sometimes I’ll have as much as 50 bees on it. So cool to watch


Hey Mike I’m new too, but I believe you have normal activity too. My bees have been in the hive since 4/8 & I saw that same stuff happening. There are older bees included in your population that have just reached the end of their life cycle. They either use their last juice to fly out of the hive (sanitary & considerate!) before they die, or get dragged out if they keel over inside. Which is fascinating to watch by the way.

Yup & the flying around sounds like orienting :honeybee:


That is a bit short, Marty. Maybe Texas bees live faster lives! :smile:

Shortest is normally around 6 weeks, unless they have to sting something, then they die if it has thick skin (like us) but they may not die if it is another insect. Depends on whether the barbs on the stinger get caught in the enemy.

Having said that, a normal hive will have hundreds of bees dying every day from old age.


good to know. can you send me a link to something to read. I remember something about 21 days which how could they get anything done in that about of time.


They will forage until their nectar collecting stomach is full. Not usually all day, but it depends on the nectar flow. They may go out of the hive tens of times each day - 30 times per bee is not unusual.

Here in San Diego, the city requires urban bee keepers to provide water for hives. If you don’t they will go to the neighbors’ swimming pools = not popular with the neighbors! :blush: I use a poultry waterer with large pebbles in the tray to provide a landing board.


This is one, not very good, but it is there: http://www.houstonbeekeepers.org/rodeques.htm,

I use the Beekeepers Handbook http://www.amazon.com/Beekeepers-Handbook-Diana-Sammataro/dp/0801476941/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462748602&sr=8-1&keywords=beekeeper+handbook for a lot of this kind of bee biology stuff.


It is about the time of day the Drones will return to the hive from their adventures, and the returning bees adding to their number


Thank you for this, I understand it know. I was getting confused with all the numbers that were so close to each other.


And just to fully clear things up – orientation flights are taken by younger bees that have not yet started foraging. These can also peak around 3 or 4, particularly if the weather earlier in the day as not been so great, but are usually somewhat earlier in the day. I’d guess most frequently around 13:00 or so.

I think Valli is probably right – that’s the time of day (at least here in northern Europe), when in my experience the drones often return en masse, and they do make a lot of noise.

@miketran: What do you mean by “near the hives” (the ten or fifteen dead bees every day)? BTW, it might be a good idea – particularly in these forums – to indicate in your profile (or somewhere), just where you are geographically. Is it spring or fall where you are observing this behavior?


Hi everyone … Few dead bees normal … I usually check each morning n find dead ones on the porch or ground. That’s the normal cycle… Now hundreds n hundreds is another story !

Mine seem to really buzz around the hive in the afternoon as the sun’s rays hit the hive at a certain angle. I remember that even many years ago. My birch hive seems to beard up about that time if warm enough. Never worried or really concerned me much.

Hope tomorrow is nice… I have my weekly hive checkup. It’s been one week since one week n two days since I captured my Swarm I’ve named “Maple” going to be very interesting to she what those new girls has done or not done. Hope they didn’t get too creative in that new 5 frame Nuc box ! :smile:


Ta ta everyone, Gerald


Ohhh ! The closest hive with the outdoor feeder is empty. Just a backup 10 frame ready in an emergency !


Hi Michael, I’m thinking that because your on the second floor balcony, the dead bees outside the hive will be more obvious because you wont have many critters to card the dead bees away like you’d have if your hive was near the ground.

The busy activity during the afternoon is most likely bees doing their first orientation flight. They do that early in their life.


I actually have hive scale data that backs up this idea. I get my second largest weight dip between 4:30-5:00pm (edit after looking at my data) and then usually see weight stabilize at around 8-8:30pm. The first weight dip of the foraging exodus finishes when the temp hits 70F and then gradually rises until the hottest part of the day then dips again until about 4-5pm as I said above.


Some of my hives carry the dead far away while other hives drop them out the front door.


I want to thank everyone for all of your help…The information that you all have provided has been invaluable in helping me understand what normal is!

Every day I am even more amazed at these little creatures! (I am not ready to call them “ladies” yet, but I am sure there will come a time… :slight_smile: )