Sudden 3 pound drop

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Sudden 3 pound drop

Would this ~3 lb drop be considered having been a swarm since the weight hasn’t come back up? It’d be odd if this was. This hive was a swarm I caught 3 weeks ago. I did a full inspection as I put it on the scale and she was laying plenty of eggs with room and there were zero queen cells or cups. There were 7 full frames of capped brood in the hive. It would seem odd that a recent swarm with room would swarm again. I got home about 30 minutes after this and did not see anything odd around or about the hive. There seemed to just be a lot of orientation flights going on.


Paul's picture
my two cents worth

Adrian and I discussed this last night on the phone. This is my two cents worth. Probably wrong and use at your own risk.

I have not watched your scale long enough to have confidence in it. This has nothing to do with you or your scale. When I turn on a system, I like to run stable for a week, both on the bench and on site, before I put a hive on it. NO glitches for a week. None. Totally solid. I have to have confidence in the equipment. As simple as the scales are, there are many layers of software and hardware and many things can go wrong.

But, let us assume that the hardware and software is working and there really was a 3 lb loss.

1. Something was holding the frame up and let go. Something like the threaded foot was contacting or rubbing on the strut or plastic covers, BUT, I checked the clearance around the holes and it looked good. Or, maybe the wire from the temp sensor or load cells shifted from how it left the platform. I don't really believe these but it is a possibility.

2. An animal like a bird or squirrel got off it. Two problems with this theory. I don't see where the animal got on and if it left, if left very slowly, one foot at a time over a 15 minute period. So, it got on when the hive was down earlier (when the scale lost contact) and got off very slowly. Maybe a turtle?

3. It really was bees up to something, but the data doesn't show the classical swarm signature of temperature spike and increase in humidity.

4. Aborted swarming or absconding. Maybe three pounds of bees left and then all came back over the next few hours. The slow weight gain the rest of the day was not nectar coming in but bee returning. Due the the confusion(?)/turmoil(?) no nectar was gathered. Dashed line is the loss due to evaporation of nectar and is what would have happened if no "swarming" and no nectar brought in:

According to Dr Seely in Honeybee Democracy, as part of a swarm, the bees gather someplace and vote on where to go. Maybe they needed to go through this process. I don't know when you caught the swarm or how long they were in that hive.

5. Maybe it really was a swarm. Problem with this theory is no swarm cells, plenty of space. But, once a hive gets into swarm mode ...

6. Something else.

Hope this helps! Ha ha.

Peculiar behavior here in the research yards

Hi Bill

Carl here in NC. We've had some peculiar behavior here in the research yards.
Been increasing 16 over-wintered nucs to 28 nucs - letting the new colonies raise their own queens.
We are having an early Spring with unseasonal flows & had several nucs swarm without queen cells started.
We've been there rounding them up as it happened
I think because comb filled so fast that space to lay was used up
that's not what I'm wanting to relay.
Some of the new colonies swarmed with virgin queen (without ever having had a laying queen)
some of the nucs "false swarmed" - clustering in nearby tree - cluster gradually shrinking over a period of hours.
Appears as if they returned to original box but hard to say for sure.
That would agree with your graph.

My two cents (which is Yank for "not worth much" :)

Carl Chesick
Executive Director
Center for Honeybee Research
Asheville, NC, USA

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