These bees fan their wings to ventilate the colony. Fanning occurs for a variety of factors including reducing moisture in the colony, reducing the water content of nectar and thermal regulation of the brood nest. When water is stored in the comb, the fanning behavior creates a “swamp cooler” effect.
The red arrow bee is the star of today’s show, that’s our fanner bee working hard to push air in/out of the colony. Her posture of a curved down abdomen is a great way of identifying this behavior. Her work takes place around the middle of her life cycle, so we can guess that she is most likely around 20 days old.
The bee with the blue arrow is nasonov fanning, basically telling the foragers “Hey, we are over here!”. They have a distinct posture with their abdomen curved up to release their pheromone. This pheromone smells like lemongrass, so pay attention to this next time you walk by your colonies on a warm and sunny day. Other pheromones can be released too, but we will save that topic for another time! If you want to learn more about fanner bees, here is an article on research being done on the topic here.
Thanks for supporting local beekeeping,
Lloyd St. Bees