4 Jan 2012

Line dancing bees

I watch my bees a lot. The entrances to the hives are visible from the house and I can observe them closely with a pair of binoculars.

I work from home and take breaks from the PC to go and see what they are doing at a given time of day or weather condition. I think it's an essential skill as a natural beekeeper to be able to observe and interpret behaviour.

Recently I looked out and saw the 'Kenyan mob' were doing something which I had not seen before. A few had lined up at the entrance in what looked like a line dance and were apparently licking at the joint between the hive wall and the landing board. I first figured they were licking at the wax and linseed coating I gave the hive.

They all faced the same direction, heads down, bums up (like fanning, but with static wings) and sort of bobbing up and down. Here they are on the first day.

This continued obsessively for days and increasing numbers joined them and they were doing the same at the entrance holes and blocking the foraging bees. It continues today. I decided to use 'good old Google' and came up with this video (one of many) describing the mysterious behaviour known as 'washboarding'.

At least I know I'm not alone . . . and it's (supposedly) not a sign of something bad . . .

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