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Guard Bees Away from Hive?

Interesting thing I am seeing with my hives lately. My three hives (SE USA) are in a 5 meter x 5 meter apiary surrounded by a fence to keep animals away from the hive. Over the last month or so, at night I have noticed that there are a few bees at night that are gathering on the netting of the fence. Specifically, the netting is about 2 meters from the hive and there are about 15 bees spread out on the fence per square meter. They just sit there all night. I assume they are guard bees but I find it odd that they are sitting on the fence rather than hanging out at the hive entrance.

If I can figure out how to upload the picture I took I will do so. It is mid-August here, so warm and not much in the way of a nectar source available. One of the hives was robbed a month ago. I was there to mitigate early so I closed the hive up with minimal interior impact. The colony is my weakest but were able to defend a hive opening only large enough for 1 bee in or out. However the battle raged outside until evening came.

So just wondering whether this is something others have seen… bees spread out as single sentries a few meters away from the hive at night? Is this some sort of regular behavior that I just cannot find discussed online anywhere? I would expect bees at the entrance landing board or even on the sides of the hive at night, but several meters away on the netting is unexpected.

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Taken at night with a red light so not great quality. The dots on the netting are bees hanging there all night. The three hives in this apiary are in the background. The closest is the Flow hive at roughly 1.5 meters away.

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I have not seen that myself, but if there is any light source in line of sight of the hive, they may be attracted to that. I have certainly seen bees gather around landscape or security lighting at night. :wink:

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Hi Dawn… there are spotlights on the corners of my screened in porch. Those lights are about 120 feet from the apiary, while this netting they are gathering on is only a few feet from the hives. I do also get the random bee or two buzzing around my spotlights at night but it is never more than one or two doing so.

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It may just be late foraging bees returning to the hive and getting hung up on the netting and not being able to visually return to the hive. It is not unusualy for a small number of bees to be caught outside of their hive at night.