In the mid to late afternoons when the sun is out our hive often becomes quite active, with young worker bees taking their orientation flights around the hive.
The life of an adult worker bee consists of 3 main stages. She starts off as a nurse bee looking after the brood - cleaning cells from which new bees have emerged and feeding larvae. At about 13 days of age she becomes a house bee, and has various jobs inside the hive such as cleaning the hive, packing away of pollen and nectar in cells for storage, building comb and guarding the hive. At around 21 days she enters the final stage, becoming a field bee whose job is to provide for the colony by bringing in nectar and pollen.
According to Backyard Beekeeping by Courtenay Smithers, it's towards the end of the first stage that the workers begin taking their first orientation flights. These flights occur each day when the hive is producing young. Young bees, often in large numbers, hover in front of the hive and then gradually fly further and further away from it. They do this to familiarise themselves with hive entrance and their surroundings, getting ready for the time when they will become field bees and will need to be able to find their way home.
|Young bees taking orientation flights|
I like watching them take these flights. It's nice to know that the hive is producing young and that they are learning to find their way home.