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Bees appear stuck, but are actually just resting, in flow cells


I’ve had the flow frames in my upper super for about 2 weeks now. I have opened up the front and the side window every day checking on how they are doing. The bees have filled in the gaps to make completed cells, but haven’t yet started to store (at least that I can see from the viewing windows).

So what I originally thought were dead bees, seem to be “resting” bees? I watched them this morning, again from the front window, and saw bees just sitting in a cell, completely unmoving, for up to 10 minutes. Other bees would come and poke at them, and they wouldn’t move when poked. Eventually, they would start moving their mandibles again, and shortly after would leave the cell.

Is this common behavior, that I’ve just never seen before due to never having a cross section view into the cells before?



No, I have not seen that. Can you get a picture? Better yet a video?


Bees sleep. Young bees sleep for short periods day or night. Foragers sleep longer and mostly at night (no surprise there) often in company along the peaceful edges of the comb but sometimes in empty cells. The posture shows a lack of muscle tone with drooping antennae and legs folded under the body.
I have never seen this in the hive as I have no way of looking in but I have in observation hives. Occasionally in warm weather you can spot bees sleeping on flowers. It takes a lot of poking to get them to move. You are very lucky to have witnessed this.



"When the workers penetrate the cells, and remain fifteen or twenty minutes motionless, I have reason to believe, it is to repose from their labours. My observations on the subject seem correct. You know, Sir, that a kind of irregular shaped cells, are frequently constructed on the panes of the hive. These, being glass on one side, are exceedingly convenient to the observe, since all that passes within is exposed. I have often seen bees enter these cells when nothing could attract them. The cells contained neither eggs nor honey, nor did they need further completion. Therefore the workers repaired thither only to enjoy some moments of repose. Indeed, they were fifteen or twenty minutes so perfectly motionless, that had not the dilation of the rings, shewed their respiration, we might have concluded them dead. The queen also sometimes penetrates the cells of the males, and continues very long motionless in them. Her position prevents the bees from paying their full homage to her, yet even then the workers do not fail to form a circle around her and brush the part of her belly that remains exposed.

“The drones do not enter the cells while reposing but cluster together on the combs; and sometimes retain this position eighteen or twenty hours without the slightest motion.”–François Huber, New Observations on the Natural History Of Bees Volume I, LETTER VIII. 4 September 1791

Does that sound like it? I would expect a “stuck” bee to struggle…


Sounds like you need to set up a B n B.