On Thursday, Mike and I attempted to observe retinue behavior. So what is retinue behavior? Retinue behavior is the action of worker bees towards the queen including antennating, grooming and trophallaxis. A substance produced by the mandibular glands of the queen is thought to be the trigger for this retinue behavior. Antennating is the tapping movement of the antennae displayed by the bees in the presence of a queen. Grooming consists of worker bees cleaning and managing the appearance of the queen. Trophallaxis is the transfer of food or communication with the queen.
To observe retinue behavior we followed the protocol complied by Dr. Yusuf A. Ahmed from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. The first step in this protocol is to find the queen in each of 20 hives and note how many bees are around the queen. The second step is to observe the retinue behaviors described above for 30 seconds. The rest is as follows below:
Antennating with the queen (Yes/No) if yes- How many bees?
Grooming the queen (Yes/No) if yes-How many bees?
Trophallaxis with the queen (Yes/No) if yes-How many bees?
There are two videos below for you to try your hand at observing retinue behaviors. It helps to pause the video when the bees are moving fast to observe retinue behaviors.