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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

Even if you find one post on the subject, I've posted a lot on basic beekeeping skills like installing bees, harvesting honey, inspecting the hive, etc. so be sure to search for more once you've found a topic of interest to you. And watch the useful videos and slide shows on the sidebar. All of them have captions. Please share posts of interest via Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Orientation is not Swarming

When you are a new beekeeper, it's hard to distinguish between swarming, orientation, and robbing . A swarm leaves the hive with a roar and in a very determined swirl up into the sky - like a tornado of bees. Robbing involves attacking by one set of bees on the occupants of the hive. You can see the attack, dead bees scattered in front of the hive and general mayhem.

Orientation is a different experience. It can be confusing because it contains some of the elements of both swarming and robbing. There's noisy buzzing like a swarm and the hive appears to have many bees leaving all at once. It's chaotic like robbing and the bees appear to be confused about whether they are coming or going - which is how robbing can look.

Here is a video to at least demonstrate orientation for you to clear up some of the confusion. If you can be calm yourself and watch your own bees, you'll begin to see that the same bees are flying up, turning to look at the front of the hive and then returning to the hive to begin the "practice run" again. The other give-away about orientation is that it happens at pretty much the same time every day - somewhere between 3 and 4 PM.


  1. Thanks Linda that is really useful information. No one ever mentioned this to me.

  2. I'd read of swarming. That is I had seen the word without really an explanation, until now. Thanks for the post. It sure is of great help.

  3. good post linda and invaluable for beginners!!! your blog rocks! i just started beekeeping 3 yrs ago and am learning alot from you! trying the foundationless frames and crush and strain technique i have learned from you so far:) big hugs!:)

  4. Anonymous11:15 PM

    Saw my first orienting gala bash this weekend, and my first thought was "are they swarming?", but a few beesource regulars set me straight, and one pointed me to this post!

  5. just happened to my new hive... i was so scared they were swarming or getting robbed--- they all returned--- and there are no dead bees around!! ---> thank goodness!!


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