What are my bees doing when they are on the landing board in front of the hive,and are moving back and forth "cleaning" or scraping the board with their mouthes?I have seven hives and only about half of them are exibiting this behavior.The ones that are doing it are doing it in mass,a community effort.Thanks for any insight...JOHN
Are these hives strong hives and is the Honey flow on?
My reason for asking if they are real strong and you are into a good flow it may be a swarm indicator if they are doing it in mass.
If the flow is over, or between flows they are just hanging out doing the Bee social thing.
Better safe than sorry, I'm sure we'll have other advise to help you decide your course of action.
I heard this is called "Wash Woman Dance" when there is not much of honey flow.
Why do you say it's a sign that they may be swarming, Chuck? The reason I ask (I haven't come across this one before) is that this has just come up on one of the bee lists, and was questioned.
I have observed bees doing the same thing in the middle of a honey flow in strong hives. They stand about as if waiting for something to do instead of foraging, they appear to be clearing the alight board just as described.
I have gone through the hive while they are doing this and have found queen cells. On hives that I failed to split during this time "I" had them swarm on me with in a day or two.
That is just my experience, I don't know of anyone else observing this type of behavior.
I learned to take frames of bees and brood every spring to make splits as a swarm prevention in late March and very early April. That is my only explaination for my posted reply.
Washboarding, performed by young bees.
Not to worry, it normal activity.
Don't think there is any relationship
to swarming. Most of the time you'll see this in the fall.
Agreed, you'll see much more in the Fall, but unless you are in the southern hemisphere, May is spring
I was observing this activity recently and thought maybe it was a swarm indication. Almost as if they were trying to keep the path clear. But it looks as if they're just scraping the entrance with their front legs. Its kinda interesting to watch. I've inspected the hive and didnt see any queen cells, so I guess this is a natural maintenance.
[This message has been edited by Frosty (edited May 14, 2002).]
I saw my bees doing something like that but it looked like they were rubbing their mouths back and forth in the entrance and along the opening. I though they might be propilising the cracks in the wood.
I just observed my bees doing this right now at 8:30 at night, There was a mob of bees at the entrance that had about 100 bees on the landing board 95% of the bees had there head down moving back and forth the other 5% were fanning. The news predicts the weather to be 72 degrees today it was in the 80's. maybe they are trying to sense pressure drop and weather? I have heard that they can predict rain because they are more aggressive to us breaking into the hive the day before it rains.
Thanks everybody for all the great answers,sounds like I have nothing to worry about,but it seems to be one of those beekeeping mysteries...JOHN