Cleaning the hive entrance

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:

Heads down, everyone!

Heads down, everyone!

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…)

Post script

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.

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One Response to Cleaning the hive entrance

  1. simplebees says:

    I’ve seen such behaviour in my Warrés. It seems that some bees like to keep their doorsteps polished and clean. One used to see this with humans who lived in terraces in industrial towns but not so much these days.

    I’ve often wondered if it is connected with wax that has been used to treat the hive. The bees sometimes form a line and process backwards licking and scraping as they go. Line dancing? I’ve never noticed it on hives that have a simple hole for an entrance with no landing board.



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