Orientation flights

One of the first things you are likely to see when setting up a new hive are forager bees on orientation flights. Bees hovering in front of and circling around are learning the landmarks of the new location. An important step in ensuring they will be able to find their home again after searching for flowers. In the following video we see the activity around the hive after being placed in a new location. You can see a stark contrast in the flight patterns around the hive in the first few days as compared with the last day:

You will also see this behaviour in hives that are already established at a location as younger bees develop into foragers and leave the hive for the first time, typically, this behaviour will not be as pronounced as when moving a hive.

It is possible to confuse robbing with orientation flights. If the bees are young and fuzzy and they are peacefully entering and exiting the hive it is most likely orientation flights.

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