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Thread: Drawing a circle on Google maps - Obeattie

  1. #21


    Quote Originally Posted by gavin View Post
    I've seen bees at my apiary near Errol (on the same day) coming home with the white stripe of Himalayan balsam (they have to fly to the Tay for that) and pointing 5 km away to the SW, and others pointing at heather on a hill 7-8km to the NE. There was one fine day quite a few years ago not far from you GG, just W of Oldmeldrum, when doing some field work on foraging and the approach of a dark cloud caused a mass exit from the field in the direction of a large apiary we knew about 10 km away up the side of a slope W of Rothienorman.

    Francis Ratniek's group recorded waggle dances pointing at the moors 'near' Sheffield (11km away, as far as von Frisch took it as well), and there was a 1930s study in Wyoming by John Eckert who recorded foraging 13.5 km away. There is a nice wee article here.

    I have just used the link in this thread to relate distance from my apiary (500m, 1 km and 3km radius) to where I have seen my bees foraging. The 1km radius corresponds with the greatest distance I have recorded. This seems to
    Work I have found on the foraging range of honey bees (J Insect Sci. 2011;11:144. Foraging range of honey bees, Apis mellifera, in alfalfa seed production fields. Hagler JR1, Mueller S, Teuber LR, Machtley SA, Van Deynze A.) showed that:
    distances travelled by marked bees (leaving to returning from a hive) ranged from 45 m to 5983 m
    on average bees were recovered at about 800m from their apiary
    the recovery rate of bees decreased exponentially as the distance from the apiary of origin increased.

    From this, I take that:
    1. Sometimes a bee does not do much foraging (50m) when it leaves the hive and at other times it can fly nearly 6km while foraging.
    2. Mostly bees stay within about a km of their hive when foraging.

    I think it would take an exceptionally dry, warm, windless period in Fermanagh to tempt my bees to forage usefully on the heather about 3km away.

  2. #22
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    Watch your bees' waggle dances, they'll tell you. I have not recorded frquencies but my impression is that they dance equally for sites 1, 2 and 3 km away. 4km and more is less common but not at all infrequent and does not always depend on great weather. This spring when it was cool they were dancing for willow 4km away. I'm pretty sure that a scent trail from the flowers to the hive helps them, wind direction matters.

    Bear in mind that the area increases with the square of the distance. I hope those scientists realised that too. Finding marked bees out and about is bound to be more difficult with increasing distance.

    This work from the LASI at Sussex chimes with my own casual observations: long-range foraging is more commonly (but not exclusively) found in summer. Your bees are bound to find the heather 3km away, only perhaps not every year and perhaps not in such force to get you a heather crop. Last summer the association's bees here were dancing for heather 3-4km away. I smelled it in the hives (well, over the open hives) and saw patches of honey. It was a poor season though - August was not great for foraging last year.
    Last edited by gavin; 25-07-2015 at 11:26 PM.

  3. #23


    Thanks for your interesting observations and the Sussex link.
    Quote Originally Posted by gavin View Post
    Your bees are bound to find the heather 3km away, only perhaps not every year and perhaps not in such force to get you a heather crop.
    Landscape structure and forage habitat distribution must also be important for influencing travel - my heather is west (wind direction is largely from the SW) in marginal uplands (150m elevation) and my apiary is in hedged grassland (50m elevation) with good biodiversity. For most of the summer there is good forage (giving "hedge honey") - and until late Aug there is still mainly blackberry, rose-bay willow-herb, meadow-sweet and other minors. We then get masses of Ivy starting mid-late September.

    I will add waggle-dancing and more pollen load records to my casual observations on heather foraging.

  4. #24


    What an interesting thread
    Three miles is a big patch of land

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