“You Can’t Sit With Us”: Guard Bees Protect the Clique

LSC News

Bee colonies and the movie Mean Girls aren’t that different.

You’ve got your drone bees:

Your worker bees:

And, of course, you have the Queen Bee:

But, there’s one bee that doesn’t get nearly as much recognition as it should: the guard bee, protector of the realm and enforcer of the rules.

What’s so special about guard bees and why should we be paying more attention to them?

Simply put, guard bees perform the most crucial role in protecting the colony from intruders. Standing on their back four legs, guard bees use their remaining two legs and antennae to inspect every bee entering the hive. Entrance into the hive depends on the scent the entering bees have.

Each colony has a distinctive scent which is used by guard bees to identify whether or not a bee belongs to the colony or if they are an intruder.

Yes, that’s right, if a bee smells funny, the guard bees essentially go

If that isn’t enough, the guard bees will sting and attempt to remove the intruders (almost always bumblebees, wasps, or yellow jackets). Size doesn’t intimidate these feisty protectors; guard bees are known for attacking skunks, raccoons, and even beekeepers all in an attempt to protect the hive.

As vicious as they may seem, they aren’t steadfast in their mission. Guard bees will allow a foreign bee entry if the bee has a load of nectar or pollen. Who would turn down free food?

So, instead of giving worker bees, drone bees, and the Queen all the credit when you visit our bees on the 3rd Floor, take a second to appreciate the Gretchen Weiners of the bee world, the guard bee.

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