When I have time I enjoy just watching the goings-on at the hive and I've noticed that a good number of the workers are quite pale in color. They stand out in flight and even more so on the landing board, and it finally dawned on me that this color was quite out of the norm, in my limited experience.
So, I got in close for a better look, and these particular bees are 'missing' their dark stripes on the body. On some, the black bands are simply not there or are so pale as to be virtually invisible. Then, on others, these bands appear on one side but fade away, or are barely visible at the tail end of the bee but fade away within two or three 'spacings' of the stripes. Some appear almost 'white', or the lightest of pale gold color. No stripes at all.
The hive seems strong, doing the usual spring thing and these pale bees act completely normal. In my most recent inspection (the first of the season for me) I even noticed one of them dancing, and getting plenty of attention while she did so.
It's an odd situation, something I've never noticed before. A mutation? Younger bees, just becoming field bees? Mostly I'm curious, as the hive does seem otherwise very normal and healthy.
Any ideas?