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Strange ticking noises + Bees outside in the evening


Hello everyone,

I heard some strange ticking noises coming from inside of the hive, today. It was not a/the queen making piping noises. It was an irregular, more ticking kind of noise. As if something was hitting one of the metal parts the hives (screen underneath or the queen excluder). I did not record the sound, but found something similar uploaded by another beekeeper, here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ub7h8wforpy98fl/bee%20knocking%20noise.wav

I checked the screen underneath the hive (I read that sometime bees bump into the screen) but to my idea it did not come from there. I noticed the bees outside the hive seemed agitated. This was before I heard the ticking noise (it could not be heard all the time).

And at the end of the day I found some 25 bees on the ground (well, on the B2 blocks that form the ground) in front of the hive and some 60 bees underneath the hive. Since it has been quite cold the last couple of nights, I collected the very passive bees, took them in the house where they warmed up and started being active again, and took them back into the hive.

I did not open the hive, because it was not warm enough, but it sounded like something was inside the hive, and agitated the bees. I’ve only had this hive for about 3 weeks now, but have never seen so many bees outside the hive at the end of the day (sure to die during the cold night). So, I’m really curious to know what caused the ticking sound and why.

Any ideas? (Additional info: I have a mouse excluder at the entrance of the beehive, nothing big can enter the hive).



My first thought would be a mouse, but as long as you’re sure that your mouse guard is in place and without gaps I’m at a bit of a loss. I know wood boring beetles can sometimes sounds like a clicking or ticking sound, but it wouldn’t sound metallic.


Please keep us inform as soon as you know the source of the noise.


@adagna - that’s what I thought, too. But there is no way a mouse could have entered the hive. So, I was thinking something smaller, like a beetle, a moth or hornet. A wood boring beetle would maybe be an option, indeed. (I hope it is not that, though!). Would the bees be able to get rid of an intruder, or do they have to find their way out themselves?

@Zab - will do! If it is warm enough today, I will open up the hive. But I am reluctant to do so, since the temperatures at night are around 0 degrees Celcius (32 degrees F).


You probably don’t have cane toads, but this is what happened to a cane toad that entered a hive from a gap in the side of the hive.


No, we do not have that species over here. As far as I know that species does not occur in Europe. But we do have other species of amphibians. However, it is impossible that something that big could have entered the hive.

The sound, b.t.w., is still there (last night it wasn’t, but with increasing temperatures, it is now back). I hope that the temperature will soon be high enough so that I can take a look inside the hive.


Could it be the frames and foundations breaking apart from being attached by wax? if the bees put small amounts of wax between the wood and the foundations they may expand/contract at different rates. So that sound could be that ‘seal’ breaking?
Just a thought from a new beekeeper…


It is bees making comb. Chewing on wax. Sculpting it etc.

“Your ear pressed consecutively against the glass partition of either hive would perceive a sound resembling a sort of chattering produced by the jaws of the workers occupied with the preparatory work of their architecture, a work which is performed upon beeswax only.”–Huber in a letter to Elisa on Swarming, August 10, 1831, in Huber’s New Observations On Bees, Bicentennial Edition pg 600.


Thanks for the additional replies. Unfortunately, he last couple of days have not been warm enough (especially cold nights) for me to feel comfortable with opening up the hive to take a closer look.

@rjberry - Interesting idea! I have no idea how “wax-seal-breaking” sounds, so, so far, I cannot verify this.

@Michael_Bush - Would it be that loud, though? I do not have to press my ear to the hive to be able to hear it.

I am leaning towards the idea of it simply being caused by bees falling onto the mesh at the bottom of the hive. I have not heard this in the beginning, but it might be that the hive populations has simply expanded (we recently did an inspection, I just posted a video of it in another topic I started, and I saw quite a bit of capped worker cells).

If it has gotten more busy with worker bees, maybe the chances of them falling from in between the frames onto the mesh bottom is bigger?

I don’t know. As soon as I know more, I will let you know.

Thanks so far!


Yes it’s loud. You can “lean” all you want, but Francis and Pierre Huber cleared it up 200 years ago…


That is pretty amazing, though…so loud! And in that case, I am happy to hear it. :slight_smile: