Last weekend I shifted my bees from one location to another on the same farm. Now the distance wasn’t all that great – maybe two hundred yards but it’s a better location for a number of reasons.
At the same time I did the spring maintenance – swapping the upper and lower brood boxes, opening the lower entrance while closing the upper and cleaning out the dead bees that had accumulated at the bottom of the hive.
The reaction of the bees was rather interesting. While the move was accomplished fairly early in the morning while it was cool some bees still exited at the original hive site. Those “flyers” had several opportunities to follow the hives as we loaded them into the bucket of the tractor and slowly progressed over the field – some did but quite a few stayed glued to their original site.
When the hives were being prepped at the new location and the lower entrance was opened and the upper closed the reaction was just as interesting. Bees from one hive that had taken flight as the hives were opened started to congregate at the level the upper entrance would have been at – but on the opposite side. A few figured out where the lower entrance was – but many just hung around in the wrong place in the forlorn hope that somehow the pine would part and readmit them into the hive. It almost appeared like one or two had gotten there and attracted the others, as if hanging out with the folks who were clearly wrong was more comforting than leaving and looking for a real entrance.
By the time I was finally cleaning up the winter wraps at the original hive location the bees that remained there had caught on to the fact they were in a bit of a pickle and were agitated. If they’d tagged along earlier they would have been ok… but by that point they were pretty much out of luck. By the time I pulled out of the new bee yard shortly after noon there were still a couple of good clusters of bees on that one hive handing around where they though the hive entrance should have been – but obviously wasn’t. I’m hopeful they found their way back into the hive but they were obviously confused and not doing anything terribly productive to rectify the situation.
That got me to thinking – how much were those bees like humans? Clearly some bees were much better able to adapt than others. So how resilient in the face of challenges and changes am I and for that matter are you?