Do Cast Swarms Sometimes Have a Different Agenda?

I have once again seen a number of cast swarms this year that seem set on a path quite different from what I would expect.  My observations and thoughts are here.  You might be surprised!  Comments welcome, but on this page, please.

Gareth, Cotswolds

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5 Responses to Do Cast Swarms Sometimes Have a Different Agenda?

  1. grahambrookbanks says:

    Interesting theory, Gareth

  2. Julia says:

    What a theory! And who could have come up with this except someone who keenly observes. Very inspiring and extremely humbling. Thank you.

  3. jonbinspired says:

    Here is an additional thought. A bait hive which filled with bees this year was left in position where it first filled. Last week out of the four hives in the garden it was the only one which had a sudden influx of refugee bees (abdomen down to one side on the alighting board and ‘tongue lashed’ by guards for several minutes, gifts exchanged). This went on all day – the guards were busy. About 40 bees did not pass the entry test. I wondered at the time – why this hive out of all the hives and speculated that because it was the most successful bait hive it was best for refugees to find … but after reading your article I now wonder if it also had a long standing connection to another hive … and maybe the mother hive which might have failed after the swarm. The scouts who selected the hive for the refugees … did they take genetics into account? We know that bees can tell the difference between half and full sisters (Tautz) so it’s possible that connection can be made by the bees. So rather than remote larder – I wonder if it is also scouts from a failing hive checking host compatibility.

    August seems to have been the sorting out month for stay or go in failing hives here. It’s one of the reason why I like to allow hives to fail, rather than artificially propping them up for a cold demise in winter.

    Jonathan (somerset)

    • simplebees says:

      Interesting observation that adds a further dimension, Jonathan. One realises that bees are far from one-dimensional; multiple routes to colony/genetic survival?

      August seems to have been the sorting out month for stay or go in failing hives here.

      I see the same thing; my apiary has also been through a shake out in the last couple of weeks.

      Gareth, Cotswolds

  4. Paul says:

    A backup larder might also be insurance in case the original colony feels in danger of robbing.

    Or: perhaps the original hive population was so large they were having traffic jam problems.

    You could sugar-dust bees in casts you’ve hived, and see if they have 2 homes – their original hive and the cast’s new home. Knowing these links, if you later find a daughter hive shipping its honey back to the mother hive, it’s evidence that they’ve been thinking of each other as a single superorganism all along.

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