How old are the worker bees that leave the hive with a swarming queen?
That’s an interesting question.
I’ve read that the bees in a swarm tend to predominately be younger bees, but I’m not sure whether that’s true. My guess would be that it’s a fairly even mixture of all ages, excluding very young bees that have just emerged from their cells.
There’s a lot about swarms that aren’t fully understood yet. But one thing that we do know for sure about honey bee swarms is that older bees are in charge.
These older bees are called scout bees, and they have the job of finding a new home for the swarm. The scout bees decide when the swarm will leave the parent hive, and they decide where the swarm will go. The scout bees also guide the swarm to its new home.
The bees that take up the job of scouting for a new home for the swarm are always bees that were foraging for nectar and pollen before the swarming process began. And foragers are usually the oldest workers in a colony.
The queen makes no decisions about when to swarm, nor does she have any say in the matter.
In fact, when the bees decide they are going to swarm, they put the queen on a forced diet, because she must lose weight to be able to fly well enough to make the journey to the swarm’s new home.
Then when the time comes for the swarm to leave the hive, the queen is forced to leave the safety of the hive and accompany the swarm to its new home. One of her daughters will take her place as the queen of the parent colony.