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Heater bees or hygienic bees?

A heater bee -- head down and vibrating to generate heat to maintain the brood temperature

A heater bee — head down and vibrating to generate heat to maintain the brood temperature.

As I patiently wait the appearance of a queen in the observation hive (it seems that the first queen cell was torn down and two others started, albeit at a late larval stage), I’m becoming interested in the heater bees.

I always thought that bees with their heads in a cell were simply cleaning it.  That’s not  necessarily so.

Jurgen Tautz in The Buzz about Bees tells that bees, heads down in cells and vibrating are actually heater bees maintaining the brood at the optimum temperature. He reckons that the control of the brood nest temperature is equivalent to power usage of 20W (watt) and that if bees could channel that energy into a light bulb, they could light up their dark hive world!

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

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