When the entire colony of bees abandons the hive because of adverse conditions such as pests, disease or unsuitable hive conditions.

On occasion absconding can also happen when you first install bees into a new hive. The bees may abscond either because they were agitated during the install or they determined the hive wasn't the right condition for them. To prevent absconding when installing bees, put the bees in the hive first thing in the morning or about an hour before dark. This will give the bees a chance to settle down and decide that the hive is suitable for them.
Africanized Honey Bees

are a hybrid cross of the Western Honey Bee species (Apis Mellifera) and the African Honey Bee (a.m. scuellata). The African honey bee was first introduced to Brazil in the 1950s in efforts to increase honey production. Africanized honeybees tend to swarm more often, more likely to abscond for adverse conditions or stress, greater defensiveness characteristics, have a higher proportion of guard bees within the hive and cannot survive extended periods of forage deprivation.

Alarm pheromone

is a secreted or excreted chemical from the bee's sting that triggers an "alarm response" in the colony because the hive may be under attack. This pheromone smells similar to bananas. Considering not eating bananas before for working with your bees may be advisable. :-)

Apis Mellifera

The species of honeybee originating in Europe. The European honeybee or Western honeybee. The honeybees in your hive are Apis Mellifera honeybees.


Worker bees that are attending the queen. The attendants groom and feed the queen. They also collect Queen Mandibular Pheromone from the queen and share it with the bees around them who also share it spreading its effects through the hive. This gives the colony a distinctive smell and is one way bees recognize their colony and hive mates.

Brood Nest

The area in the hive where the brood is reared. The area where the queen lays eggs and the worker nurse bees rear the young. In a Langstroth hive these are normally the bottom boxes below the supers. In a top bar hive the brood nest is ideally towards the front of the hive. The broodnest in a top bar hive can be setup using the falseback when setting up the hive


The male honeybee which comes from an unfertilized egg laid by a queen or in the case of a queen-less hive a laying worker. Unlike the female worker bee, drones do not have stingers and do not participate in field activities like nectar and pollen gathering. Drones can help heat the hive and broodnest but a drones' primary role is to mate with a newly emerged virgin queen from a surrounding hive. Drones do not normally mate with a virgin queen from the hive they were reared as they are allowed to drift from hive to hive.

Drones are characterized by eyes that are twice the size of those of worker bees and queens, and a body size greater than that of worker bees. These large eyes are needed for mating which occurs in flight. Several drones from various hives in the area mate with the same queen on this mating flight. Drones fly in abundance in the early afternoon and are known to congregate in drone congregation areas a good distance away from the hive. The newly mated queen is now carrying genetics from many area hives which accounts for the genetic diversity for the new colony the queen will lay eggs for. A drone bee dies after mating with a queen.
Drones are reared in the spring in correlation with swarming season. During the autumn drones who have not mated and are still drifting from hive to hive are driven out of the hive.

Field bees

Worker bees which are about 21 or more days old and do tasks outside the hive like collecting nectar and pollen from blossoms, water and propolis. Field bees are also called foragers.


A secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Honey bees (Apis mellifera) have one of the most complex pheromonal communication systems found in nature, possessing 15 known glands that produce an array of compounds. These pheromones are secreted by all members of the colony, the queen, the worker bees and the drones for various reasons of communication. The chemical messages are received by the bee's antenna and other body parts.
Honeybees communicate with the colony with these distinctive pheermones. Using smoke in a hive can drastically alter the delicate balance of phermones and the bees ability to communicate with each other. 
Honey bee pheromones can be grouped into releaser pheromones which temporarily affect the recipient's behavior, and primer pheromones which have a long-term effect on the physiology of the recipient. Releaser pheromones trigger an almost immediate behavioral response from the receiving bee. Under certain conditions a pheromone can act as both a releaser and primer pheromone.
Types of Honeybee Phermones:
Alarm phermone, Brood Recognition phermone, Drone phermone, Egg Marking phermone, Footprint phermone, Forager phermone, Nasonov phermone and wax gland and comb phermone are just a few.
Queen Mandibular phermone is one of the most important phermones emitted in the hive by the queen bee.


A fully developed, mated female bee responsible for all the egg laying of a colony. Normally there is only one mated adult female in the hive at one time. The queen only mates once in her life with several drones in a mating flight in the air providing all the sperm she needs for a life time. The queen bee lives about 3-5 years and her abdomen is noticeably larger than the worker bees. A queen bee can lay up to 1,500 eggs a day during spring build up. The queen bee is fed and groomed by worker attendant bees. The attendants collect and distribute the queen's mandibular pheromone  which inhibits the workers from starting queen cells. The queen bee can regulate the sex of the eggs she lays. If the queen fertilizes an egg it will be a female (worker) bee or an unfertilized egg will be a male (drone) bee.

Queen mandibular pheromone

is one of the most important sets of pheromones in the bee hive emitted by the queen. It affects social behavior, maintenance of the hive, swarming, mating behavior, and inhibition of ovary development in worker bees. The Queen Mandibular pheromone is emitted as an attractant to the assisting workers to their queen. These queen assistants are know as the "queens court".

Worker Bee

Non-fertile female bee whose reproductive organs are suppressed by the phermone of the queen in the hive. Genetically, a worker bee does not differ from a queen bee and can even become a laying worker bee, but will produce only male (drone) offspring. The life cycle of a worker bee is about 6 weeks in the summer time.

The worker bees are responsible for carrying out the tasks for the colony. The progression of her tasks depend on her age and the needs of the colony. A worker can be a house bee, taking care of duties in the hive or a field bee performing duties outside the hive or in "the field" .

The first task of the house bee is cleaning comb cells so they are ready to receive eggs laid by the queen. The next stage is feeding the brood, at this stage she is called a nurse bee.  Advanced nurse bees feed the queen and drone larvae. The next stage is wax production for comb cell building and repairs. Other various tasks of the house bee include storing honey and pollen in the cells, fanning in the hive to provide air flow and proper ventilation. Also fanning of water is a technique for evaporate cooling which helps regulate the temperature and moisture in the hive. Fanning honey cells to evaporate the moisture from the nectar curing it into honey. House bees can be heater bees who regulate the temperature of the brood nest and they can also regulate an individual  brood cell. Guard bees are at watch near the front of the hive defending it from invaders.

Field bees are foragers who find and collect nectar, pollen, propolis and water for the hive, often passing off what they have collected to the house bees to store or use in the hive. Mortuary bees remove dead bees or failed larvae from the hive. Scout bees are the most experienced foragers and when a hive is ready to swarm they first find a location just outside the hive for the swarming bees to land and collect. Then about 30-50 scout bees from this cluster go out and look for a new, suitable home for this cluster.