Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Fanning:" Bee Dance Craze Sweeps NYC

Unless you're a morning person, it's never fun to wake up at 6 am. Looking around at all those silent, sleepy stares on the A train aroused an anxious stirring in the pit of my stomach. Their dazed countenances were too familiar, and evoked uncomfortably visceral memories of myself not so long ago. I wondered how many of them were secretly panicking on the inside, how many were mere automatons going through the monotonous motions of their lives apathetically, and how many were confident that their destinations were so much more awesome than the destinations of the majority of their fellow passengers. For the first time in a long while, I fell into the final category.

Sunrise at the hive. Ah, what could be more grand?

The Bee Team met on the roof at 7:15 to check on Michelle Obama's marshmallow progress and the general well-being of the hive. The little guys were pretty low key. We opened the top of the brood box and...

Wowee Zowee!
A whole lotta bees.

We pulled out the frames to find the queen's lounge.

Notice the colors of Eddie's clothes? Bee camo again!

Jon went in for the queen. The worker bees are so protective of her that they cling to her box in defense. We smoked them to ensure there were no attacks, especially since we were all sans-bee suits. Notice the opening at the bottom; this is the site that once housed the formidable marshmallow plug.

The queen is still inside, but the marshmallow plug has been devoured by one or more of her brave suitors. The box has become somewhat of a love nest, as there is most definitely more than one drone in there with the queen. I didn't include an actual photo of this lewd behavior, in the interest in keeping this site PG-rated.

Just kidding! I couldn't get a good picture of the queen. If I had, it'd already have been all over the pages of Star magazine, Us Weekly and In Touch, and I would've been driving a black-and-yellow-striped Lambourghini by now.

We had no choice but to let Michelle Obama do her thing and emerge whenever she pleased. Hopefully it will be sometime today or tomorrow. We put her back in the brood box and replaced the frames.

Then, it was time to sit back, relax, and watch.

As the sun rose higher and hotter, we began to see a large number of bees returning to the hive and waddling through the front door with powdery yellow pollen stuck to their hind legs. Unfortunately, again, I didn't catch it on film; but I will. I thought it looked like they were wearing yellow Hammer-pants. Eddie thought they looked like they had yellow turkey legs.

We astutely noticed that the bees were seemingly sticking their butts in the air and flapping their wings. So strange!

After some serious research (google search: "bees butts air") I learned that this is called "fanning," a move that I will surely introduce to my dance repertoire. Interestingly, worker bees (all female) follow an evolution of worker-bee-tasks in a very particular order. "Fanning" is one such task, performed during the later phases of a bee's life span, but before foraging. The oldest worker bees forage; they save the best for last, in my opinion.

The fanning worker bees assume this provocative position as if to say, in pheromone-talk to their comrades near and far, "The queen is out of her box! Come home!"

If the bees are fanning, and it sure looks like they are, then Michelle Obama has left her queen's lounge. This, in turn, means that she will begin laying eggs, and that in 21-ish days, a new generation of bees will be born, and they will continue to help make the flowers grow!



  1. dude, this is so exciting! when i come to nyc next, this is what i expect to see: you, in yellow hammer pants, fanning.

    how long will these bees live? how long will Michelle Obama live?

  2. You guys are pretty brave not using the bee suits & all.

    I freak out at the mere sight of a bee - I freeze and hope they don't "see" me :)

  3. Very cool, my raspberries will be in bloom soon and our bees will be so happy.
    Interesting blog, I will be back. Those bees would love all the flowers on my blog.

  4. Them protecting the queen is maybe the cutest thing I've ever seen. They think they're SO tough. I love them!

  5. were the bees listening to prince paul booty clap? ("get that ass in the air!") i believe i will need a fanning lesson in the running man coat.

  6. there's a running man COAT?

  7. AnonymousJune 10, 2009

    Hmm.. I´ve learned that the bees are fanning to keep the temperature of the hive low. Like ventilation or such. This one was new, interesting..