Bees displaying all 4 wings

Warm days here in Sinta (34 degrees C) which is why there isn’t much clustering and a lot of boarding. I did, however, notice one bees with all 4 wings splayed out like the classic butterfly cartoon. That bee was running all over the face of the hive, and even going backwards and forwards. I know it is part of the communication - does anyone know what it means?

Maybe you’re describing k wings?


Yes, that’s it. Is it related to the heat?

John Lawson

Thanks Chau. Yes, I guess it was k wing but the wings were actually further forward. And after walking around for a minute or so the bee did fly away!

John Lawson

Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think bees can fly with true k wings. Maybe it was grooming or asking for grooming, got everything tidied up and flew off…

That’s why I mentioned the flying. In fact, the upper wings were fully forward and the smaller ones were further back like a butterfly, and it did fly. That’s why I thought it may have just been some kind of signal to the others, or it was somehow cooling itself more

John Lawson

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Well, that’s something new that I’ve learned today.

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What part was new? The k wings?

Hi Alok, the k wings, plus this is the first time I’ve seen a photo of a bee displaying the 4 wings. I’ll look closer now to see if I spot it with my own bees.


I was at the hive again today - 34 degrees C and there was a bit of robbing going on, but the bees were dealing with it nicely. They even saw off a yellowjacket. The 4 wing behaviour occurred a few times but not for long. It was always a guard bee that unfurled her wings and then marched quickly across the front of the entrance until she met another bee - then the wings went back in. Yesterday there was one bee that spent at least a minute displaying her wings like that. I think its just a bit of ‘stretching’ going on!


Fred Dunn talks a little bit about this in his q&a YouTube episode #163.

Don’t forget that K-wings can be a symptom of several bee diseases, especially viral. The occasional bee doesn’t matter but if you see it more often in a hive you may have a problem.

Thanks Jim. But unread that they cannot fly and it is a ‘permanent’ condition. These bees brought them back in and behaved perfectly ‘normally’, including flying

John Lawson