I am really very new at all this, but is it my imagination or have there been more late and later swarms then is "normal"? Makes me wonder how much of Colony Collapse is actually bees packing their bags and absconding suddenly. These late season swarming/absconding is bee suicide in most parts of the country, even the deep south. Thus doesn't sound "normal" to me.
Besides those pesky SHB, what other things trigger absconding? Besides the home tree falling down.
How long does it take for a queen to slim down enough to fly?
We use smoke to trigger the "get packed, forest fire!!!" response in our bees, but can the queen escape in a real life situation of fire? Or is she too heavy to launch? Because the rest of the colony can flee, but without her they can not survive for long. because there would not be any eggs at the new home to "make a queen".
I guess "in the wild", these colonies would simply perish. So I guess our bees are somewhat dependent on us beeks to be sure they have enough food.