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Following behaviour

This page is credited in full to Dave Cushman who created it. His voice is expressed in black colour text and any additions or comments in blue belong to myself. Credit: Dave Cushman’s website.



Following Behaviour in Honey bees

This may be an extension of guarding behaviour or it may be a separate factor.

Similarly, it is often associated with head butting behaviour, but I am unsure of any direct linkage.

Basically… after colony disturbance a number of bees will pursue the beekeeper or helper at about head height and for a variable distance that may extend to hundreds of metres. This may be accompanied by ‘dive bombing’ or ‘head butting’ or maybe just keeping station with the receding person. Sometimes the person being followed will report that the bees appeared to be ‘staring them in the face’.

I mark fairly heavily against this activity and will re queen such colonies at the earliest opportunity. The behaviour is compounded if the followed person is intimidated by the process (I presume ‘fear pheromone’ is at work here).

I have a personal feeling that the head height and following aspects are related to carbon dioxide in exhaled breath (or halitosis), but I have no “evidence” for my conviction.

This is one of the most annoying traits of all in my thoughts. There is nothing worse than having to retreat to a dark spot or even take them to the car and have to stop several times to get them out of the vehicle. Yes I have suffered from this one, it’s an AMM trait sadly. Identifying the culprit colonies in an apiary of 40 odd is not that easy, but of course much simpler for the owner of two or three. Re-queening is the only answer.



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