Do wild honey bee colonies ever move into an abandoned hive?
May 5, 2014 4:56 PM Subscribe
Not far from where I live is/was a wild bee colony in a living but semi-hollowed tree, and I've been observing this colony for a number of years as an amateur naturalist. About three years ago I noticed that the hive seemed empty from winter to winter, and I suspected it was a victim of CCD, but then the next two years after that the colony was back and seemed to thrive. Well, I stopped by this weekend
and I find the hive seems abandoned, even after I saw activity earlier this year
. I'm not assuming the colony collapsed, but I'm wondering if when it disappeared three years ago, was what I saw the years after that the same hive, or did a new colony move or grow there? Do wild colonies ever recolonize the hive of a previous colony?
posted by Toekneesan to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The other details that I wonder about include the fact that this colony is very near a road with a residential home on one side, and a large farm on the opposite side. The tree hosting the colony is on the residential side, and the owner recently used glyphosate in a large area close to the colony. Blaming that though seems sketchy as I know the farm across the road also uses glyphosate, but I don't think they have this year, at least not yet. It's usually pretty obvious. And there certainly aren't studies conclusively pointing to glyphosate, I just think it's notable that the residential homeowner recently did. Both sides have used it in the past on years when the colony seemed to be thriving.
So I'm worried about this colony, particularly because when I visited last weekend, I saw quite a few ants crawling in and out of where I typically see bees entering the hive. If there were bees in there, I can't imagine they'd tolerate those ants, so I'm concerned. Checked again this weekend and I still saw nothing.
So it got me wondering if there could be a bounce back as it seemed to have occurred three years ago. Or did that colony actually collapse, and what I saw the year after was actually a new colony that moved in. My googling and small collection of bee books don't address the issue of wild colonies moving into abandoned colonies, so if you know, or can point to a resource that looks at this, I'd greatly appreciate it.