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Queen piping, quacking, and tooting

Honey bee queens make specific sounds during certain periods of their development. These sounds have been described by humans in various ways—including bleating, mewing, croaking, and honking—but some consensus has been reached on what they mean. All these terms describe forms of queen piping. Piping is the sound made by a virgin queen while she […] Read more

Genetic diversity within a honey bee colony

Someone asked me why their honey bee workers were different sizes. I can’t give a concrete answer to this question, but it brings up the subject of honey bee genetics. Honey bees, like many other insects in the order Hymenoptera, have a sex determination system known as haplodiploidy. In this system, the sex of an […] Read more

Bearding is often confused with swarming

Bearding is a term for bees that are assembled on the outside of the hive during hot weather. They may cling to the outside of the brood boxes, hang from the alighting board, or gather near the entrance. The conditions that lead to bearding are high temperatures, high humidity, over-crowding, lack of ventilation or some […] Read more

Uncapped honey fermenting in the comb

To produce honey, bees collect nectar from flowers and add enzymes from their honey stomachs. Once the mixture is stored in cells, the bees fan it with their wings until it dehydrates to a moisture content of about 16 to 18.5 percent. If the moisture content is higher than that, the bees simply won’t cap […] Read more