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Author Topic: Bees Clustering on Warm Days  (Read 2793 times)
rail
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« on: December 15, 2011, 05:25:00 PM »

I notice on warm days (55 to 67 degrees) bees will cluster on the ground in front of the hive and groom each other?

Is this normal for bees in winter, with temps. that vary during the week?
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Sirach
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2011, 06:24:52 PM »

Are they grooming or "line dancing" ?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2011, 08:52:05 PM »

Bees don't generally hang out on the ground... are there some "K" winged bees?  They would look like they have four wings (which of course all of them do) instead of looking like they have two wings (which is what they normally look like).
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rail
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2011, 01:20:13 AM »

Bees don't generally hang out on the ground... are there some "K" winged bees?

None of the bees have "K" wing.
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rail
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« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2011, 01:23:55 AM »

Are they grooming or "line dancing" ?

Grooming.
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Sirach
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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2011, 05:29:23 AM »

Rail,  are the bees that are being groomed covered in pollen or do they look different in some way?  I have not seen this behavior in our bee yards.
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rail
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« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2011, 06:55:00 AM »

Rail,  are the bees that are being groomed covered in pollen or do they look different in some way?  I have not seen this behavior in our bee yards.

They're physical appearance is no different than the other bees within the hive. They are not covered in pollen.

Is this a selective nature of the hive for old foragers?

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Sirach
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2011, 07:52:41 AM »

Hygienic traits ?
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« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2011, 12:50:54 PM »

I’ve never seen my bees clustering on the ground in the winter, spring, summer, or fall.

I have seen cases where they end up clustering outside the hive if they get caught in a sudden cold spell.  I don’t like to see that behavior because if they’re clustered outside and it then rains, those bees are goners.

Maybe you need to make them a little veranda  Smiley
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hardwood
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« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2011, 12:55:03 PM »

There isn't a queen in with the cluster? Maybe a misguided virgin?

Scott
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« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2011, 01:18:01 PM »

How many bees?  How big of a cluster?  How tight of a cluster? How far in front of the hive?  Where in front of the hive?
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rail
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« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2011, 07:44:56 PM »

There isn't a queen in with the cluster? Maybe a misguided virgin?

Scott

No queen in the clusters.
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Sirach
rail
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« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2011, 07:49:31 PM »

How many bees?  How big of a cluster?  How tight of a cluster? How far in front of the hive?  Where in front of the hive?

Five loose clusters, with eight to ten bees in each cluster. Three to twenty-four inches in front of the hive stand.
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Sirach
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« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2011, 10:15:18 AM »

rail, did you happen to spill some sugar syrup or dry sugar on the ground in front of the hive?  Are the clusters in the same place all the time?  And what exactly are you seeing that seems to be grooming behavior? 
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rail
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« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2011, 11:09:43 AM »

rail, did you happen to spill some sugar syrup or dry sugar on the ground in front of the hive?  Are the clusters in the same place all the time?  And what exactly are you seeing that seems to be grooming behavior?  

No syrup or dry sugar in front of the hive. I have been open feeding 100' from the hive on warm days.

The clusters are always in front of the hive stand, which is 27" tall. They are grooming as if removing pollen from the body and passing nectar from tongue to tongue. They cluster on the blades of grass and some do not return to the hive, just die in front of the hive.

How does our warm days and cold nights normally effect the activity of the hive?

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Sirach
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« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2011, 09:48:28 PM »

How does our warm days and cold nights normally effect the activity of the hive?

With the weather we've been having, the bees are going into cluster every night and flying every day.  My bees are still bringing in an orange pollen, something other than henbit but I don't know what it is.  It's great that they are finding so much pollen but if the warm days continue, I'm going to have to add more dry sugar so they don't starve.
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rail
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« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2011, 07:59:21 AM »

I notice orange, cream-gold and red colored pollen being brought into the hive.

Should I feed with dry sugar or a candy board instead of open feeding with syrup?
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Sirach
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« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2011, 08:56:51 AM »

I notice orange, cream-gold and red colored pollen being brought into the hive.

Should I feed with dry sugar or a candy board instead of open feeding with syrup?


I think the red pollen is henbit.  If your bees have enough stores, don't worry.  But if the warm weather continues and your hives are using up all their stores, you have to feed something.  I think it's too late to feed syrup.  They won't take it if the syrup temperature is below 50F, so you can't leave the syrup out overnight and expect it to get warmer than 50F during the day, even if the maximum air temp is 60F.  Also, in my opinion 100 feet is too close to the hive to be feeding syrup.  The bees use a "round dance" out to 75 yards.  This dance does not provide enough direction and distance info so the bees end up searching the area around your hives for the scent of the syrup.  This can trigger robbing of one hive by another.  I feed at 100 yds and this does not seem to start robbing behavior,  I guess because the bees are doing a waggle dance that sends the foragers away from the hive.  Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking with it.   grin

You could try feeding warmed syrup, either open or in a top feeder.  But of course the bees will only be able to take a small amount of it before it cools down too much.  And feeding syrup this time of year increases the humidity in the hive since the bees don't have time to dry and cap it before real cold weather starts.  High humidity is not good for bees in winter.

So if you must feed, the best thing is dry sugar.  If you add a box (we use shallows) above the brood nest and put newspaper over the brood frames, you can put a pile of sugar (say 5 lbs) on the newspaper.  This is easy to check and periodically refill if necessary during the winter.  I pour a little water on the sugar so it will clump and not fall out of the hive (we have screened bottoms) or be tossed out by the bees as trash.  Only one of my hives has dry sugar on it right now.  I checked yesterday and a small clump of bees, maybe 20 bees in all, was sitting next to the pile munching away on the sugar.  I leave a gap between the newspaper and the edge of the box on one side so the bees can easily move between the sugar box and the broodnest.
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T Beek
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« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2011, 04:39:12 PM »

Forty degrees and sunny today in N/W Wisconsin.  Dumped another 10 lbs of Dry Sugar in all three hives.  Had bees coming out of all enjoying the sunshine.

thomas
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Hethen57
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« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2011, 12:43:12 PM »

I have seen similar behavior in early Spring when we get our first warm weather days in the 50's...the bees will fly and many (20-30) will land on the ground in front of the hive, meet up in small clusters of 5 or 10, and freeze overnight.  It is like bee suicide and maybe that is what they are doing...just calling it quits after a long winter. 
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