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spiderplantman 

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Collected a large prime swarm yesterday from a tree on the pavement on a quietish cul-de-sac estate. What was weird though was the huge number of bees not in the cluster in the tree, but spread out across the road beneath, all waiting to get run over by cars. It was over quite a large area, say 5 sqm, and a huge number of bees were spread out in the road, most of them fanning, despite being nowhere near the cluster a good 8-9ft above them and 6-7ft horizontally (ie, they weren't directly beneath the cluster on the tree). Weather was obvs v.warm (I was a delightful sweaty mess as we waited for the bees to follow the queen into the skep once we dropped the main cluster in).

Anyone any ideas why they were doing this instead of clustering with the main gang? They all wandered in in the end, so all ends well, save a few bees that got flattened by wheels from passing delivery drivers/residents etc.
 

spiderplantman 

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my wife and I suspected exactly that, so we scoured all the bees on the road for ages trying to find one, but didn't, and all the bees seemed fairly spaced out - none of them were clustering together, which is what I'd have thought would happen if there was an additional queen. It was just the single cluster in the tree. At one point we saw some bees moving in the same direction underneath a car. We asked the owner of the car to move it so we could look at them, but no queen. It looks like they may just have been seeking shade and trying to take cover from the (v. hot) sun. Once the car was moved they stopped bothering to move together.

Just want to reiterate though, this was a very large number of bees on the road. Not just a few. Thousands. More than was in the queen cluster.

(once collected, we installed them that evening and they followed normal walking-into-hive-after-the-queen behaviour and today they've been making orientating flights as you'd expect - so on the face of it, post-road, they look pretty normal, and a lovely sized swarm).
 

Erichalfbee 

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It’s quite likely that the queen who is a weaker flyer than the rest of the swarm just came down on the road and the bees followed her. You just didn’t spot her. It’s not common but there are plenty of reports of similar happenings. Let us know what you find when you check inside in a week or so.
 

Earthboy 

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my wife and I suspected exactly that, so we scoured all the bees on the road for ages trying to find one, but didn't, and all the bees seemed fairly spaced out - none of them were clustering together, which is what I'd have thought would happen if there was an additional queen. It was just the single cluster in the tree. At one point we saw some bees moving in the same direction underneath a car. We asked the owner of the car to move it so we could look at them, but no queen. It looks like they may just have been seeking shade and trying to take cover from the (v. hot) sun. Once the car was moved they stopped bothering to move together.

Just want to reiterate though, this was a very large number of bees on the road. Not just a few. Thousands. More than was in the queen cluster.

(once collected, we installed them that evening and they followed normal walking-into-hive-after-the-queen behaviour and today they've been making orientating flights as you'd expect - so on the face of it, post-road, they look pretty normal, and a lovely sized swarm).
It sounds like the queen is lost somehow.
 

spiderplantman 

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Not sure. As soon as we gathered the main cluster from the tree above into the skep and placed that on a sheet down on the pavement, the road bees all duly wandered over and climbed right in, so Q looks like she was in the cluster on the tree.

Could it be the ones on the road had lost her scent and couldn’t detect her from the 15 or so feet away in the tree? Seems a bit unlikely, but it would explain the wide spacing and no-clustering of the bees on the road.
 

Markthebuilder 

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Could the reverse have happend ... queen landed on road first followed by 1000s bees and rested wanders about a bit befor getting up again into tree. Bees on ground left with some sent and confusion especially at low level with the added fumes from hot road
 

Erichalfbee 

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Could the reverse have happend ... queen landed on road first followed by 1000s bees and rested wanders about a bit befor getting up again into tree. Bees on ground left with some sent and confusion especially at low level with the added fumes from hot road
I think that is more likely
 

Hachi 

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Not sure. As soon as we gathered the main cluster from the tree above into the skep and placed that on a sheet down on the pavement, the road bees all duly wandered over and climbed right in, so Q looks like she was in the cluster on the tree.

Could it be the ones on the road had lost her scent and couldn’t detect her from the 15 or so feet away in the tree? Seems a bit unlikely, but it would explain the wide spacing and no-clustering of the bees on the road.
Not necessarily so. I picked up the remnents of a swarm in the road that was decimated by vehicles driving through it, it was carnage. The bees I picked up and put in the nuc some were round the entrancing fanning, giving the impression the Q had survived and was in the nuc because most bees marched in as you say. There was a cupful of bees in the road that wouldn't budge. in the middle was the very flat Q. I picked her up and placed her on the top bars. Within seconds they all marched in.
 

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