Fred Boucher found this cluster of bees in his garden under one of his mating nucs. His initial thought was that this was a tiny swarm cluster caused by a colony of bees absconding from a mating nuc… but it wasn’t.
The bees were too tightly clustered for that and they were clearly agitated. He could also hear loud squealing from deep inside the cluster.
What these worker bees are doing is called balling, they are basically tightly clustering around the Queen and creating enough heat from friction to kill her. During her life, the Queen releases a pheromone that tells the workers that she is the Queen, but towards the end of her life she stops producing this pheromone. This makes the workers think she is an intruder. They defend the hive by killing the “intruder.”
(Source: Fred Boucher)
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