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Why are my bees doing this? Noise and large numbers in front of the hive


Attracted to the back yard by the noise of bees in the air I found great numbers high in the air and about the hive.After ten minutes things quietened down, they landed and went inside the hive.
It’s a cool spring morning 22 degrees.


It sounds to me as though you might have a swarming event today or tomorrow. You could check the brood box for queen cells to know for sure.
Have you done a Spring split of the hive?


it could be like Peter says- or it could be the daily cleansing flight. Every day- usually around 12 to 2 pm many of the bees come out of the hive and there is a great deal of activity. Usually this happens in the area immediately in front of the hive.


This is new territory for me Peter.
The hive needs to be harvested.
I hope it is a cleansing and this is the first time I have been about to see it


Cleansing flight!! I hadn’t thought of that, like the OP, the first time I saw this happening I figured my split was in the process of absconding. After seeing it calm down and witnessing it a few more times all I could come up with was “mass orientation flight”. :+1:t2:


I deleted the thought of a cleansing or orientation flight as the noise of the bees drew your attention out side to see what was going on, and you said the bees were high in the air.
If the hive needs harvesting what is stopping you doing it? If it is something you haven’t done before it is straight forward, use a little smoke to calm the bees down and if you are nervous as you do it you don’t need to do all the frames at once. Do what you can do comfortably and leave the rest to another day.
Cheers Stan


I agree with Peter, in that it was the noise that drew your attention. I’m thinking it could be a practice swarm. When I see that, I go straight in & take a split, including the queen. I take the split away. I do this quickly because I figure that the fair dinkum swarm will probably be tomorrow, as @Peter48 eluded to.

Like you say, it IS early spring. If it’s not a practice swarm & the bees are not making swarm preparations right now, they will at some point in the coming weeks. While your down there, you might as well do a preemptive swarm prevention split.


that’s interesting Jeff- essentially that type of split taking away the queen would work like a Taranov split- as the bees would pretty much think that they had swarmed- you’ve just pre-empted it and mimicked a swarm. I assume when you do this there are already queen cells - if the hive was just about to swarm there must be- what do you do with them? Do you leave them all as is- or destroy most of them? Do you leave any queen cells that go with the queen in her new split? or do you destroy them/choose frames without them?

Today- we are having a cold snap in Adelaide after a wrm building up spell- now it’s wintry cold, rain and wind. This has me wondering about Swarms: i read that swarms happen when a hive is super crowded and the queen pheromone is spread too thin throughout the hive. The bees on outermost frames sense she isn’t there and start building queen cells.

I am wondering if a hive will often swarm after there has been a cold spell in early spring? If the bees numbers are very high and growing- and they are all forced to stay inside in the cold- might this precipitate swarming? I imagine many of my hives are very packed with bees currently as not many foragers would be out.

I also wonder if hives with higher levels of drones are more prone to swarming as the drone mill about blocking the queen getting all over the brood frames. I can see if I was a busy bee- those drones milling about could be a real nuisance!


Hi Jack, I’ve never done a Taranov split. If a Taranov split means you don’t have to look for the queen that would be a good thing because the queen (unmarked) can be hard to find in amongst a colony that’s ready to swarm.

I have only lost one primary swarm this year. All my swarms were small & out of colonies making emergency queens. I spotted a couple of those practice swarms. In those cases I split the colony, taking the queen & only leaving one queen cell in the remainder. I wouldn’t leave any queen cells in the split I remove that contains the queen.

It’s a small %age of bees that are out foraging, therefore there’s not much extra room required when they’re all home. Anyway they’re all home at night.

I believe that it’s the lengthening of the days plus the amounts of pollen coming in during spring that triggers swarming. I’ve seen lots of swarms out of hives where there’s plenty of room to spare. Sometimes I think it’s just in the genes. Some bees are more swarmy than others.


The great thing about the Taranov is there is no need to find the queen at all. You just dump all the bees in front of the hive onto a sheet- with a ramp leading up to but not quite reaching the entrance. All the forager bees jump/fly across the gap and go home- but many of the younger nurse bees and the queen end up in a big cluster exactly like a swarm under the top edge of the ramp. It’s easy to see all the queen cells on frames as you have shaken off every bee. You put a few frames with cells back into the main hive and put frames without cells int he split. The bees remain gentle throughout and it really seems as if you have mimicked a swarm so much so that the bees think they did swarm. To me it seems an ideal measure for a hive that is going to swarm imminently in the next day or three. I’ve only done one but it worked perfectly.


A queen returning from mating flight resembles a swarm in flight. They can get other hives to act odd making several hives to take flight. When I see this I look for queen being balled on ground near by. Saved a few queens this way.