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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Yellow Backed Bees

    Anyone know what to make of these?

    http://alexanderboyes.com/photos/201...llow_Backs.jpg

    Context:
    First year beekeeper just south of downtown Milwaukee, WI. Got a late start after two dud queens, but thanks to beesource member geebob I now have a healthy colony with a locally mated, first year queen. In early September I started noticing these yellow backed bees coming and going at the entrance. They behave normally, and I found them scattered throughout the hive. The pictured frame had more "marked" bees than most.

    Is someone marking them? Are they marking themselves?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,693

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    I too have these "marked" worker bees all over in my hives, especially earlier in the summer. I thought it was just pollen. I'd like to hear what others have to say.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    665

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    Last Saturday I noticed bees coming and going at the entrance of one hive with yellow backs. When I opened the hive I saw numerous bees with the same phenomenon. I have never seen this before, and it was just in that one hive. I'll try to get a picture next time. I assume they are working a pollen plant and its adhering to them, but its strange in that the bees aren't really dusted yellow as they are sometimes. Its like its painted on their backs in a clump.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    That's interesting. Maybe it's some kind of fungal growth or maybe their backs are picking something up when they pop their heads down into cells. Have never heard of that before though.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    A thought: Around the time I started noticing this was when they were filling in a box of foundationless/starter strip frames. They were building sideways and joining frames so I had to do a bit of cutting and trimming on some freshly filled comb. Maybe their backs got sticky while walking the adjacent frames, they went foraging, and pollen stuck and hardened in place? Seems like a difficult place to reach with bee arms.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Whitmell, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    Somebody is marking your workers to determine where and how far your hive is from them.

    [edit to add]

    It's likely somebody raising and marking queens too. Since this is the 'yellow' year. Looks like they've been marked like you would a queen although rather sloppy.
    Last edited by ralph3; 10-11-2012 at 02:56 PM.
    Don't laugh it's paid for. -- Manure draws more flies than honey.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    665

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    It does look like they are painted yellow and I thought of that. However, they wouldn't have to mark my bees to detemine how far they were from them if they already knew where my hives were located now would they.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Whitmell, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    @Riskybizz

    It would just depend on what they are tryna do.
    Don't laugh it's paid for. -- Manure draws more flies than honey.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Maryville, tn, usa
    Posts
    208

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    looks like pollen... some flowers are set up so when a insect lands on them the anthers tag them, on landing on another flower of the same type the pistil must be passed in such away as to deliver the pollen. Not going to clean that pollen off with out help from a sister...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,658

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    What I've heard...
    Flowers of some plants snap the bees on the back when they dig down to get the nectar from it. Some flower in your area, blooming this time of year, is shaped such that the bees get snapped on the back when getting their stores of nectar from the plant.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,375

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    Most likely it's pollen from Jewelweed.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Fredericksburg, Va
    Posts
    798

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    Looks as if they are getting ready for trick-or-treats.
    Bee all you can Bee!
    http://www.hamiltonapiary.net

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    I've seen them heading out to forage with the marking intact. If it were pollen wouldn't it be harvested and stored before they left?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    665

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    I'll be back in my beeyards this weekend and if the weather cooperates. I'll try taking a few close up pictures and inspect the yellow bees more closely. Maybe try to remove the yellow with my finger. I have to admit it kinda has me stumped. I have seen many colonies with pollen covered bees looking like they were 'dusted" but this is different. I'm sure MP is correct in that its pollen from a collected source.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Baytown, TX., USA.
    Posts
    651

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    Maybe Beelining.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beeline
    Seems to be a sport with contests and all.
    Julysun elevation 23 feet. 4 Hives, 2 years.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    460

    Default Re: Yellow Backed Bees

    I am pretty sure it's pollen. My bees have shutdown now, but some had the same markings a few weeks ago.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

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