Why Do Bees Leave Their Hive?

Bee absconding can be one of the more surprising things to find for a beekeeper when examining apiaries.

If you are not aware, this is a situation where the bees decide to leave the hive for a more pleasant environment. According to the keepers of these pollinators, the circumstance is quite discouraging.

There is also one more major reason why bees leave their hive that we will uncover. 

In this article, we are going to answer the following question: Why do bees leave their hive? You will learn some of the main reasons bees decide to pack up and leave. 

So let’s get started.

What Are Some Reasons Bees Leave Their Hive?

Let’s first discuss the two reasons why bees leave their hive. There can be some confusion surrounding this topic. The two terms we will discuss are swarming and absconding.

Sometimes you can hear a beekeeper using swarming when they mean absconding and vice versa. It’s important to understand the difference because they are not the same thing.


Swarming happens when a portion of the bee colony leaves the hive along with the queen to build a new hive somewhere else.

When swarming occurs a large number of bees stay behind with the original hive. They pick a new queen and raise her, and the hive continues to progress. This can result in a decrease in honey production for the beekeeper. So, this is considered an undesirable event. Why? 

Because it signifies poor health in the hive. 


Absconding is entirely different. When this happens the bees completely abandon the relationship with the hive and never return. In many cases, all or almost all the bees disappear from the hive. Including the queen. They may leave young bees behind.  These young bees may be unable to fly, unhatched brood, and pollen. This is a good indication that something has gone horribly wrong. This type of hive abandonment may happen for a variety of reasons, the most common being: lack of forage, ant invasion, or a heavy mite load.

Top Reasons Bees Abscond From the Hive

  • Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) – This can occur because of chemical contamination of the colony food stores and beeswax. 
  • Problems with the queen – When a queen becomes older in age she can stop laying eggs, which creates a lack of new bees when others die. Causing a depletion in the colony forcing them to abscond.
  • Poor ventilation – Bees need fresh air, if a beekeepers structure is not well ventilated it does not provide enough oxygen, causing them to leave and find a new home with better airflow
  • Uncomfortable hive – There are many reasons that can cause an uncomfortable situation., on major reason is bad smells. Bees are highly sensitive to smell so if the scent of glue or paint is detected they can’t handle it and will vacate right away.
  • Fluctuation in temperatures – If the temperature is too high in the apiary bees will stay outside, which is a sign of overheating. In contrast if the bees are too cold they will die, so freezing temperatures will cause absconding.
  • High humidity and poor drainage – Hives have a tendency to become to wet in humid conditions. An environment not favored by bees. Poor hive drainage can cause damage to the comb killing bees young and old. 
  • Flightpath obstruction – When bees need to get pollen or water having obstructions is less than ideal. Bees need clear flight paths. They can decide to move to a location that offers clear flight patterns. 
  • Frequent disturbances – No one likes being disturbed, bees are no different. Strong winds, large animals or even insects can cause bees to relocate. In addition to this, consistent adjustments made to the structure can disrupt the peaceful state bees enjoy.
  • Food and water scarcity – It is up to beekeepers to provide plenty of food and water. This is even more apparent when the colony is new. As the colony grows the worker bees can begin making their own food. But until then you must provide the right amount of necessities.
  • Parasite and disease attack – The parasites that affect bees eat their honey and .in many cases pests can harm the bees directly as well. Ants, wasps, butterflies to name a few. Certain diseases like stonebrood, chilled brood, and dysentery can cause absconding as well.  

There are more reasons bees abscond, but these are some of the most important ones to pay attention to. 

In Conclusion

Bees need a safe and secure environment to survive and thrive. Just like you. As a beekeeper knowing this will help you raise your bees in a much better environment yielding you the sweet reward you so desperately desire. 

In this article, you uncovered the mystery of why do bees leave their hive and more importantly, learned specifics as to why. If you need the right tools and equipment to keep your bees comfortable, you need Beek’s Best. There a reliable provider of all your beekeeping needs. You can reach them at (866) 712-3357. They will be able to answer any question you have about your hive and offer useful and actionable solutions to your problems.