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Running Behaviour
in Honey Bee Colonies

An undesirable trait

The calmness of colonies on the comb varies considerably from hardly moving to rushing to the bottom, clustering and falling off. The more they run, the more difficult and longer it takes to inspect a colony. If the bees run, the queens always do, often making it difficult to find them. "Runners" will soon be noticed, as even with only a small amount of smoke over the tops of the frames they will rush off the faces of the comb, hit the floor and run to the side of the hive, where they will either run up the inside of the brood box and well over the top and down the outside, or come pouring out of the entrance. The queen goes with them and on many occasions I have found a queen outside a hive.

When you handle a colony it is possible to have the bees staying firm, but continuing their business - I don't mean those soft yellow bees that don't need smoke and are almost incapable of looking after themselves. The next generation of them can often be quite lively! Some bees are what I call "mobile" and appear to be bustling about. They don't ever seem to run, but they can be improved.

I have found that running is easy to deal with, simply by requeening those colonies that show that trait. Quite heavy culling has reduced running in the colonies in my area to a very low level. If you only have two colonies, one is bad tempered and the other are runners, then breed from the runners every time.

In my experience running and bad temper don't often go together.

Roger Patterson.