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Following Behaviour in Honey bees

This may be an extension of guarding behaviour or it may be a separate factor.

Similarly, it is often associated with head butting behaviour, but I am unsure of any direct linkage.

Basically... after colony disturbance a number of bees will pursue the beekeeper or helper at about head height and for a variable distance that may extend to hundreds of metres. This may be accompanied by 'dive bombing' or 'head butting' or maybe just keeping station with the receding person. Sometimes the person being followed will report that the bees appeared to be 'staring them in the face'.

I mark fairly heavily against this activity and will requeen such colonies at the earliest opportunity. The behaviour is compounded if the followed person is intimidated by the process (I presume 'fear pheromone' is at work here).

I have a personal feeling that the head height and following aspects are related to carbon dioxide in exhaled breath (or haletosis), but I have no "evidence" for my conviction.

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Written... 07 December 2001
Revised... 07 December 2001