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Orientation flights in winter


Hi, I’m in Western Australia and so in the middle of winter. Last week was cold and wet by our standards (loads of heavy rain and temperatures 3-14ºC. Then over the weekend the temperatures increased significantly 21ºC in the day, although there was still rain.

The bees have maintained a low level of activity through winter but have significantly increased activity over the past few days. They were working away in the flow hive on the weekend, which I’m pretty sure was a sign of collecting nectar and there’s been plenty of pollen coming in.

Today there were loads of bees out doing orientation flights (almost as many as you see in summer). Does this mean that the nurse bees are starting to develop into foragers and that the queen is beginning to expand the colony? Does them starting this still in the middle of winter give you any cause for concern (i.e. if it turns cold again, will the colony suffer?)


Hi Dunc,
You are seeing normal behaviour and I wouldn’t worry too much, they have coped with extremes for millenia. We had some very cool days last week in Sydney and now a couple of days of 21-23C, my bees have been going mental. But come the cold and rain in the next few days, they will huddle indoors and wait it out. I wouldn’t be concerned about the colony expansion, they have room in the hive and up into the super to grow if needed.


Are you sure they are orientation flights and not cleansing flights?

As the title of the book states, “Everybody Poops.”


How would i tell the difference? I thought bees normally pooped away from the hive.

They always seem to fly around the hive, within about 3m, at the same time… close to 1pm and there are normally bees on the hive with their bums in the air. Its the latter that made me think it was orientation.


"My’ wild (feral) colnies have been doing the same, started a few days ago as the weather began to warm up. Same time & distance. I am convinced we will have an early spring as magpies, wrens & Eastern Spine Bills have begun nest building over past week too. Lots of plants showing springtime responses too.