Washboarding Bees

Washboarding: a curiosity of beekeeping?

Washboarding is an interesting behavior where bees walk back and forth in a ‘washboarding dance’, for reasons apparently unknown to beekeeping.

Some speculate the bees do this when food sources are unavailable, or the bees don’t know where to find them.

What does observation tell us?

EyesOnHives allows us to visually record this washboarding behavior and examine other factors which may be related.

For example this hive exhibited a large amount of washboarding, which built up over the day.

As the day got hotter, the washboarding increased.

Over a period of weeks, we saw that washboarding only significantly occurred for this hive in hotter weather over summer months, even in Southern California, where bees are still active in winter.

It’s too warm inside the hive – how about a breath of fresh air outside?

Another nucleus hive we recently observed washboarding has a small entrance, and a lot of bees inside.

This makes us think that when the house bees get toasty, they may be trying to just to get a breath of fresh air!


Bees are very careful to keep the temperature inside the hive at a temperature ideal for brood development.

For hives with lots of bees, and small entrances, we think it’s plausible the house bees are just coming outside so it’s easier to keep the right temperature inside.

Or maybe the bees are just dancing strangely to keep beekeepers guessing!

Always more to learn!

Share it –