Can anyone explain what is going on here? I’ve never seen this behaviour before.
A bunch of workers appear to be licking this Warré hive entrance area clean. It’s rather extraordinary. I’ve put a 30 second video clip on YouTube here. (This blogsite you’re reading does not support video.)
Here’s a still picture from the video:
The other hive is not displaying this behaviour. The other hive is a TBH with simple holes in the sides. (It’s got lots of drones clambering in and out, I think it has other things on its mind…)
About a week after observing this behaviour I realised the hive was queenless. There was a dead queen outside. The colony was originally a cast, i.e. had a virgin queen, and she obviously hadn’t mated successfully. Whether this was related to the licking of the entrance I don’t know, but I mention it in case anyone else sees this behaviour so they think to check the queen is OK.
The colony numbers were way down and I united the remaining bees with another colony with the old newspaper trick, which went smoothly.