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Population Dynamics of Honey Bee Colonies

Annual cycle of bee numbers The months of the year are laid out like a clock face with January situated at one O'Clock. The centre represents the origin and the coloured segments represent quantities. Each Pixel from the origin represents 200 bees.

The red area represents worker bee numbers and the brown area represents the difference between the swarming and non swarming situation.

The diagram represents a situation without the presence of varroa.

The data is an averaging of the seasons 1984 to 1992 on the Leicestershire/Warwickshire border at Ashby-De-La-Zouch. The numbers are estimated, but they are consistant.

The number of foragers available for nectar and pollen gathering affect both the future brood numbers and the honey gathering ability. I do not have data that gives forager numbers for a swarmed colony, but it would reach it's peak about a month earlier and the numbers would be reduced. The numbers would not be as depleted as you may think from the numbers lost to the swarm as many young bees would turn to foraging earlier to balance thing up a bit.

If I find suitable data I will add it here for completeness sake.

The three diagrams below are (left) the number of eggs laid (centre) the number of open brood and (right) the number of cells containing sealed brood. For consistacy with other pages the cells are counted as "open brood" after 3 days from being laid. The scale here is 10 cells per pixel.

eggs laid open brood sealed brood
Ratio of sealed to open brood Sealed brood/open brood ratio

Annual cycle of drone availability within the environment Annual cycle of drone numbers in a colony The two diagrams depict drone numbers, in the left one the numbers are of drones in a given colony. The drone availability diagram at right, shows relative values rather than actual numbers.

It should be noted that availability does not indicate ability to mate or fertility.

The representation is 20 drones per pixel.

Seasonal cell drawing variations Seasonal pressure on the size of cell constructed This data is incomplete and the thinking behind it is a little obscure. There are some people that are convinced that this is a significant reason why cell sizes have increased in managed brood nests, but much more data is needed to be certain of the effect and it's possible causes.

This diagram is incomplete and will be updated as more data becomes available.

Basically The inner of the five circles represents the "natural" cellsize for a given strain of bee (whatever that may be in numerical terms).

The red line represents a colony that will not swarm in a particular season or the parent colony of a swarmed stock and the blue line represents the swarm component of a colony that has swarmed.

The gaps between the circles represents about 0.1 mm per ring. I have placed the incomplete diagram here in the hope that more information will be triggered from other sources.

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Revised... (In progress) 22 August 2001