Why would the honeybees confuse their hive entrance with that of another hive?
This video shows how we have caused a lot of confusion for the bees after we moved our 1st hive 2.5 feet to the right and then added the second hive on the left way too early.
In the video, some of the returning forager bees are desperately trying to get into the wrong entrance – the bees are circling in confusion around the closed entrance of the new empty beehive on the left.
Before the bees flew foraging in the morning they had their orientation flights and stored the GPS coordinates of their (now moved) home entrance. So, will the forages figure out which round entrance is theirs if both entrances are about 2 1/2 feet away from what the bees had remembered?
Here’s how this mishap started:
Originally our first horizontal Layens hive was installed on the left of the hive stand with its open entrance on the right. An active & growing bee colony was busy bringing pollen and nectar through the single open right entrance.
When we temporarily added the 2nd empty horizontal Layens hive to the right of the 1st hive on the same hive stand, the bees did not mind, but we decided that we wanted to further increase the distance between the future open entrances of the 2 hives.
Although the minimal recommended distance between the open entrances of separate colonies is about 1.5 feet, the larger the distance, the better.
The 1st hive populated with the 1st bee colony had the rightmost entrance open, so we decided to switch the hives and move the 1st hive all the way to the right and then have the 2nd hive on the left with its leftmost entrance open.
That way the distance between 2 open entrances would be about 6 feet.
The 2nd hive was still empty so we quickly took it out so that we could start moving the 1st populated hive to the right.
The 1st problem was that the total distance we had to move the populated 1st beehive was 5 feet. But moving a populated beehive over 2.5 feet in 24 hours is a not a good idea as the returning foraging bees would have a problem finding their hive entrance.
So then we had to move the 1st beehive 2 times over the 2 consecutive days by just 2.5 feet each day.
On the 1st day, after we moved the populated 1st hive to the right by 2.5 feet in the middle of the sunny afternoon, there was no problem at all: the returning forager bees had no difficulty finding their open entrance of the hive.
Then on the 2nd day we moved the same populated 1st hive further again by 2.5 feet all the way to the right and started preparing a new 2nd hive. Here we are putting a divider in.
Then we made a mistake of rushing to install the empty hive on the left before all of the forager bees had returned. And that’s why half of the bees were confused which entrance was the right one.
Thankfully the honeybees were confused for no more than 3 hours and gradually more and more of the returning forager bees sensed the correct entrance – their Queen’s pheromones helped! Peace and harmony returned!
And, by the way, in the end we have decided on a much better spot for our 2nd hive which now has its own bee colony. This hive is now on its own aluminum stand about 30 feet away from the 1st hive. The legs of the aluminum stand are placed in the pots filled with water and a dab of oil – so that the ants won’t be able to get in.