Hi again folks. What do the bees do from dark till daylight? Rest, hive beetle boxing, hive beetle juggling, or what?
They ponder the full works of Shakespeare, and wonder how to get rid of human beings without destroying the planet.
Seriously though, what they actually do is housekeeping. They fan the hive to evaporate the water from the nectar brought in during the day. They move stores around to keep it near the brood nest. They take out dead bees. The sweep the floor of the hive. They keep the brood warm. They chase off any pests who cross them. They cool the hive if it has been too warm. They evaporate water if it is too humid. Really, they are little engineering and housekeeping marvels all night long too!
Hi Chris, everything that @Dawn_SD said. If put your ear up against the wall of a hive, you’ll hear all of the activity that’s going on. If that stops, you’ll know the hive’s in deep trouble.
amongst all those other things- apparently- they also sleep. They take micro naps with their legs folded up…
My bees were still fanning I think at around 11pm last night and 4am this morning. It was very warm and muggy for these times of the day.
I was watering the flowers and noticed a.dark patch on the entrance of the hive and took a photo. This is what the dark patch was
Well, they don’t necessarily sleep at night, but they do sleep.
“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.”–Francis Huber, New Observations Upon Bees
Thanks folks, interesting stuff.
To bee or not to bee… (sorry could not help myself)
bees seem to quiet down a lot in the evening for me. busy as all get out when the sun is out bringing back pollen and i would assume nectar and water. i got down and looked through the opening and they are just all clustered in there over the brood.
as a new bee-keeper its so darn hard to not open the lid and look at them to check and see how everything is going.
Have you ever thought about getting a stethoscope? Seriously, they are fun. OK, I used to be a pediatrician, so everything is fun from some perspective. However, a stethoscope lets you listen to your hives when you are worried. After enough experience, you will be able to detect a happy hive from an angry or sick hive. I think Ed (@Red_Hot_Chilipepper) has a priceless photo of him listening to a snow-bound hive. Worth buying one from Amazon perhaps, although I would only ever use a Littmann which is perhaps a bit pricey.
I am listening to them via the stethoscope too. Every beekeeper should have one.
I’m gonna get one. SOUNDS interesting
Very clever, MacBeeth…
Whether 'tis nobler to add the super or wait?
The one thing every new beekeeper should have is an observation hive. I made mine with bits of wood I had laying around. I just had to pay out for 2 pieces of perspex for either side. Plus some ply if you don’t have any laying around. You learn so much about bee behavior by looking into an observation hive. You don’t need a new queen in a observation hive. An old queen that is ready to be replaced is sufficient. An observation hive is just fantastic. I must open mine at least once a week to show people. Children are most interested. I get lots of "wow"s.
PS Because an observation hive has a relatively small colony, you are less likely to encounter cranky bees. With a portable hive like mine, it is easy to take it away from it’s normal position to show people in relative safety. Then it is interesting to show how the foraging bees love it when you return it to it’s original position. Then to note how the noise level drops dramatically.
Amen. You can master finding the queen, observe things you’ve never seen AND keep track of what is going on out in the field (dearth, pollen etc.). And get used to sounds and smells and then identify what is happening.
Whether 'tis nobler to add the super or wait?
or suffer the stings and agro of outrageous Apis
I just realized that I have quite a nice way to show this. The following graph is about one day of weight data from the Arnia hive scale under our Flow hive:
The graph shows the weight peaking at about 6pm, and this is approximately when my bees stop flying, or at least really drop off in numbers flying. You can see that the weight then steadily drops from 6pm to about 6am, largely due to the bees fanning to evaporate water from honey gathered during the previous day. In fact, on this particular night, it looks like they removed about 600 grams (1.5 lb) of water from the hive!
The weight drops a bit more steeply between 6am and 9am, as the foragers start to leave the hive in large numbers to commence the day’s collection effort.
So they are working hard to dry out the honey all night long.
Dawn, I’m so jealous. I want that Arnia , but looks like I can’t have it. Might look at the NZ hivemind system.