View Full Version : Ever seen this?

Jul 9th 2011, 09:10 PM
I have a hive that hatched a queen no later than last Wednesday (I saw the virgin during the inspection on Wednesday). So - I know that a mating flight or flights is going to happen sometime in the next week or so.

Today (Saturday), my wife is outside and notices a cloud of bees around the hive. It wasn't that there were so many bees in the cloud - it was more that the cloud was so spread out. Bees were just sort of lazily flying around the hive - almost like they were out for a Sunday drive. The cloud drifted away from the hive and got larger and larger until it was gone (the bees were so spread out - they didn't compose a 'cloud' anymore).

I don't know that the bees came from the hive - we only noticed the cloud around and mostly above the hive initially.

Has anyone ever seen anything like this - does it have anything to do with the mating flight that should be taking place? I thought that it might be the queen returning and bringing the drones - or perhaps the queen leaving for the flight (this occurred around 5pm).

Thanks for any insights.


Jul 9th 2011, 09:19 PM
Possibly the mating flight, but I would be more apt to think it was orientation flights by young bees learning the neighborhood. They do that normally between 2 and 6 in the afternoon.

Jul 9th 2011, 09:26 PM
I am fairly certain it wasn't orientation flying. I have seen a lot of orientation flying and when my wife called me out to see it - I expected to see orientation flights. This was very different in at least two ways:

The speed of the flying and the size/position of the cloud. Every orientation flight I have ever seen, the bees are moving fairly quickly in loops in front of an around the hive, covering an area of maybe 5-10 feet mostly in front of the hive. In this case, bees were making HUGE lazy circles and figure '8's about 10-20 feet over the hive and covering maybe a loop 30 feet in diameter (that got larger as time passed). I have never seen an orientation flight like that.

Jul 10th 2011, 07:00 AM
yep sounds like the preparation for a mating flight to me. you should have noted whether the flyer were workers or drones? often time a bit 'after' I will notice bees clustering at the front door when the new queen returns. sometime you can even spot her in the crowd.

Jul 10th 2011, 07:23 AM

I did notice some - it was a mix of both. At first, I noticed many drones in the cloud. But after I stood there a bit - there were also some workers. Though - I can't say whether the cloud was more workers or drones.


larry tate
Jul 10th 2011, 07:35 AM
Mating party I bet. We have seen a few. Sometimes she breaks away and flies to the mating area and sometimes comes back to the box either mated or to mate later.

Jul 11th 2011, 06:22 AM
beyond orientation flights drones generally only leave a hive in numbers for one reason.

Jul 11th 2011, 06:24 AM
I took a peek into the hive yesterday. There were no eggs (I didn't really expect to see any), but I saw the queen - she still looked like a virgin, but she behaved like a mated queen. Instead of running over the comb as virgins do, she was slowly moving around, checking out cells - she had a court attending her, etc.

I take that as a good sign that she mated.

Jul 12th 2011, 06:24 AM
I would say definitely yes.

Jul 13th 2011, 01:43 PM
Sounds like it, most virgins are a little runny on the comb.

Jul 16th 2011, 12:41 PM
Checked on the 14th - Eggs and a queen were seen - so it all worked out!