Monday, August 10, 2009

Queen Piping and Hive Sounds

Okay, so you thought I was a little crazy in my last post when I mentioned a sound I heard inside the hive.

(photo of the new hatched piping queen, presumed to be unmated, in Hive #2).

I said it sounded like the word "ouch" being said over and over really fast, faster and then slowing down, kind of like an ocillating fan.

Well, here's my proof that yes I'm a little crazy but here's the sounds of a queen piping and at the very end you can hear the ouch sound I'm going on and on about.

It's on U Tube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBlI1sgczVY (God bless that man for providing proof that I'm not completely crazy).

As you listen, when you approach the 7:26 mark on the recording and again at the 9:00 you'll start to hear the "ouch" sound faintly in the background. The man who did the recording thinks it's an answering call from the capped queen.

I've looked up piping on the internet and it's believed (not proven yet but suspected) that it's a call to arms, a challenge between queens in a hive. The piping can be done by a hatched queen (mated or unmated) and also by unhatched queens that are still inside their queen cells.

And for some awesome queen photos and supersedure cell photos see this blog: http://mistressbeek.com/2009/04/18/high-drama-and-the-virgin-queen-piping/ She also heard the piping when opening one of her hives.

Wikepedia has information on piping which I've quoted here: "Piping describes a noise made by virgin and mated queen bees during certain times of the virgin queens' development. Fully developed virgin queens communicate through vibratory signals: "quacking" from virgin queens in their queen cells and "tooting" from queens free in the colony, collectively known as piping. A virgin queen may frequently pipe before she emerges from her cell and for a brief time afterwards. Mated queens may briefly pipe after being released in a hive. The piping sound is variously described as a children's trumpet tooting and quacking. It is quite loud and can be clearly heard outside the hive. The piping sound is created by the flight motor without movement of the wings. The vibration energy is resonated by the thorax.

Piping is most common when there is more than one queen in a hive. It is postulated that the piping is a form of battle cry announcing to competing queens and the workers their willingness to fight. It may also be a signal to the worker bees which queen is the most worthwhile to support. The piping sound is a G♯ or A♮. The adult queen pipes for a two-second pulse followed by a series of quarter-second toots.[2] The queens of Africanized bees produce more vigorous and frequent bouts of piping."

What do you think of all this? I welcome your comments on your experiences with your hives.

It's all very interesting. So interesting in fact that I bought a stethoscope on e-bay for $25.00 so I can really listen. No, I'm not crazy. It's all in the name of research right?!
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