The Boise State Bee Team continued their work alongside Dr. Brandon Hopkins and his amazing research team at Washington State University. We were first tasked with finding queens in colonies and marking them. This step was very important because it allowed us to the take frames of worker “nurse bees” and remove them from the hive for another use without accidentally taking the queen with us.
This photo shows a great frame of brood (baby bees), where worker bees are found. You’ll notice a solid pattern of worker brood covering much of the frame with a small area of drone brood in the upper right-hand corner. Capped honey is noticeable along the top of the frame.
The video below shows our fearless leader, our Bee Team president Lindsay, shaking a frame of worker bees into the holding box.
The nurse bees fan their wings and stick their bums in the air after being shaken into the holding box. This allows them to send out a “homing” pheromone (which smells like citrus or Lysol) and communicates to the other bees that this is their new home, for now.
You might be wondering – why the heck are we shaking nurse bees from a hive into this holding box? WSU’s goal was to use these nurse bees to create new colonies with brand new queens. Nurse bees are the perfect bees to merge with a new queen because their job is to nurse or take care of other bees, like the queen or baby bees (brood). Nurse bees can be found in any colony on frames that contain brood because that is where they are doing much of their work. Worker bees serve the role of nurse bees for just a portion of their lives, usually when they are younger. As the worker bees get older, their roles change and they begin leading other tasks like foraging – leaving the hive to gather pollen and nectar from flowers and bring those resources back to the hive.
The complexity of a honeybee colony is amazing! The Bee Teamers learned that there is so much more to the work that is happening inside a hive than what is seen at first glance. The more we pay attention to the bee’s details, the more we learn about what they are up to.
Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!