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Why Bees Leave During the Fall?

We’ve heard many reports of absconding honey bees during the fall, both locally and from beekeepers in other parts of North America. Question is, why would honey bees abscond right before winter?

The term absconding means “leaving.” During fall, a colony of honey bees leaves its home in search of another. Usually, there is at least one of the following conditions that exists in a hive before a colony absconds in the fall:

  • There is a severe nectar dearth that results in shortage of stored food.
  • The hive has been heavily invaded by predators such as ants, yellowjackets, wax moths, or small hive beetles.
  • There has been excessive disturbance from interlopers such as skunks or beekeepers.
  • The hive is extremely hot due to the weather or severe overcrowding.