Featured Bee: Guard Bee
Guards are a subset of the bees on the entrance or landing board. Guards show a distinctive posture with their wings spread and their abdomen slightly tilted upward. They actively examine incoming bees. Think of these bees as the bouncers at the “bee bar”.
If the guard bee doesn’t approve, then they will begin to rear up on their hind legs. Once the guard bee identifies a threat, it will recruit reinforcements using alarm pheromone. These reinforcements are known as soldier bees (more to come on these) for dealing with mammalian adversaries, more on that another time.
When the threat is a smaller insect, it has been documented that guards will turn their backs to the intruder and use fanning behavior to create a jet of air to deter the would-be intruder. While guards will protect their colony from robbing forager honeybees, they will allow drones from other colonies to come and go as they please. Perhaps this is a tool to encourage the genetic diversity among colonies. To learn more about defensive behavior in honeybees, check this research out.
Thanks for supporting local beekeeping,
Lloyd St. Bees