One of the treats of having bees in your backyard is that you can just sit down next to the hive whenever you feel like it and pass the time, watching them go about their day.
I was doing just that the other day, when I noticed an odd behavior. There was a bee out on the stoop with slightly shorter wings then her compatriots, and a larger bee was working her over. The larger bee stood over her, fondled her with her tentacles, licked under the wings, the works. A couple times, another bee came over and they had a three-way tete-a-tete(-a-tete). Notice, too, in the bottom photo that it’s clear that smaller bee had less hair on her back than the others.
I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. Was this a newly born bee being cleaned of her afterbirth by one of her sisters, or a runty girl being bumrushed out of the hive?
Take a look at the photos below and let me know if you know the answer.