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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi friends...

I was wondering if when you magnify bees, using cameras etc, is there a way to tell which ones are the nurse bees?

And when you have a queen in a queen cage and there's a bunch of bees clinging onto it to take care of her, (not the smothering scenario), are those typically only nurse bees also?

What do you think?

Thanks
 

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Hmmmm, we talk about 3 kinds of bees, that look different, right? Queen, drone, worker bee. Their bodies are different, and stay different through their lifespan.

But, somewhat unique among insects, worker bees _behavior_ (not their appearance) changes radically as they age.
Childhood: age 0-4 weeks. Preschool is cleaning the cells in the brood nest. Elementary school is being a nurse bee (typically ages 1-4 weeks). These bees can draw out comb, and feed little siblings. And ripen nectar, pack pollen... Anything that does not require leaving the hive and then finding it again. But adult bees can "regress" and grow the glands needed for nursing brood or drawing wax, if something happens to the nurse bees, or the hive goes queenless, then the beekeeper adds young brood.
Teenager: aged 4 weeks, for a few days before becoming a forager (or other adult bee job). They are then guard bees. Think teens crabbing about siblings sneaking into their room....
Adulthood: forager (pollen or nectar or water or propolis), undertaker bee (yep, carries out dead bees from the hive), soldier bee (supports guard bees on demand, or patrols away from the hive...)

So these are all worker bees, but it is only their age that changes their behavior. Bees are fascinating, yes?

link for more info: https://sites.psu.edu/beeseverywhere/2018/02/21/post13/
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is very fascinating. The most fascinating of any other creature. Amazing so many roles. I wasn't aware that 'undertaker' was a job, but they sure are smart. Where would fanners fit in? And is scouting the same job as a forager or separate?

Its hard to believe animals can be so smart like this.
 

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What you're talking about is age polyethism.

And while the job assignments in general follow sequential chronological age, which matches a physical maturation and change timetable, the really cool thing is that the bees can go backwards and forwards when emergencies arise and earlier-age (or later-age) tasks are needed more urgently than the age-appropriate ones. And some people think they are "just bugs!"

The sequence of the tasks also match the risk involved, with the riskiest one - foraging -happening at the end of life when the loss of life would not be as costly to the community's investment in the individual.

Nancy
 
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