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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. In doing so, they may take the queen with them, possibly falling on the ground to get lost or trodden on. The more they run, the more difficult and longer it takes to inspect a colony. The longer it takes, the more stress you are putting into it, the more stress, the more it opens it up for such things as disease. If the bees run, the queens always do, often making it difficult to find and catch them. "Runners" will soon be noticed, as even with only a small amount of smoke over the tops of the frames they often 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, 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. I have also found them in rapid feeders.

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 raise queens from the runners every time, so you aren't handling unpleasant bees.

In my experience, running and bad temper don't often go together, I find runners are usually quite docile.

Roger Patterson.

Page created 11/06/2013

Page updated 22/12/2022