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Some new behaviour I noticed... 'washboarding'?

Hey All

I watched some very cool behavior out the front of the hive yesterday. Did a bit of research online & apparently this movement is known as ‘wash-boarding’

I would post a video but I think the file size is way too large. Just imagine the bees are motioning back & forth with their little mandibles going crazy on the surface of the hive.

What are peoples theories on this as it seems no one really knows what they are doing but some say they a cleaning the hive… doing a dance of some sort… and other ideas.

What do you think?

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Hi Ryan, my wife & I uploaded this video in 2017. It’s interesting to note that the washboarding also happens inside the hive as well.

I came to the conclusion that it is associated with the bees effort to cool the hive.


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If you upload it to youtube first, then make it public and post the link here, the file size is irrelevant. I would love to see your video if you are willing to try that. :blush:

Just posted a short video of the behaviour…


Now that is an absolutely GORGEOUS video of washboarding! I apologize for the caps, but it truly is a fabulous clip… :blush:

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Based on what I observed with my observation hive, I’d hazard a guess that it’s happening inside the hive as well. That would consume a lot of bee hours, as well as resources. In my case the observation hive was very lacking in insulation. I only had thin perspex plus a thin ply cover, which would have made the bees work hard in order to cool the hive. Last time I had it populated, I increased the insulation which really made a difference.

Next time you see that behavior, I wonder how you’d go if you covered the hive with wet towels, to see if after a while, the behavior stops.

Just a thought, cheers

You could also put your hand on the hive to see how hot it feels, assuming it’s in the sun.

Well its currently 40.5 degrees C outside at the moment. The Hive is in the shade though, and I am running overhead sprays every 30 mins for 5 minute intervals, which works great to keep the ambient temp down.

Tomorrow will be the real test, 45 degree C predicted here in MIldura VIC AUS. I have been waiting & waiting for the final few cells to be filled in the bottom corners of the outside frames before I harvest. But I think you might be right about the bees using the resources rather than filling the cells. Each day I check the cell honey level changes on the remaining cells back & forth from empty to half full to full to empty…

Are they just taking it from one cell to fill up another I cant see? Or are they actually consuming that honey as it isnt yet capped?

I think the bees are consuming the uncapped honey. If all of your frames are like the one in the photo, I’d harvest them. I prefer to take frames to harvest first thing in the morning when there is a less chance of really unripe honey being present in the open cells.

Some people recommend to physically inspect the frames before harvest. I would also recommend that. It’s just that sometimes the middle frames can have a large empty arc. There’s no substitute for physically inspecting the frames before harvest.


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