Observing beelines

  1. Take position a few meters beyond the feeding station to accurately observe the beeline. The observer should be able to see many bees flying. It is helpful to squat below the feeding station to see the contrast of the dark bees against the sky (Fig. 21).
  2. Look at the group of bees above the station.
    At the feeding station, it will appear that the bees are landing and taking flight in random directions from the bait. When forager bees leave the station, they often will circle up in the air to orient themselves then quickly dart off in a straight direction into the beeline and toward their nest. When one observes a strong beeline, it appears as a ‘highway’ of bees flying both directions.
  3. Note the direction of bees leaving the feeding station to return to the colony and not those approaching the station.
  4. Circle around the feeding station to determine the directions of all beelines established.
  5. Use a GPS or compass to determine and record the direction that each beeline is heading. Stand at the feeding station and record the direction that the beeline is heading from the station.

Fig. 21. An example of foraging honey bees feeding from a feeding station used to establish beelines. Note how the bees are easily observable against the blue sky and the bees are lost against the mountains and shrubs. Photo: A Vaudo.