Video of cluster movements

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Video of cluster movements

Unread post by Countryboy »

I haven't had a TV for years, so I don't keep up on TV programming. Last night, I visited my Aunt and Uncle, who always have their TV on. There was a show on the PBS channel, Nature: The Gathering Swarms.

The show had a small segment about a swarm of honeybees finding a new home, but it was basic info that most beekeepers should already know.

What really caught my attention was the segment on penguins. They showed how the penguins cluster up to keep warm, and played back a video at high speeds to see just how the penguin cluster moved and circulated. The penguin cluster acts like a superorganism, which I thought similar to bees. The penguins on the outside would work their way into the center, and the center penguins would rotate to the perimeter. The show said that sometimes the penguins at the center of the cluster can overheat.

I found a condensed 3 minute video of the penguin cluster on the PBS website, which the show calls a huddle. ... warm/8872/

The TV show showed them breaking the cluster too. What was interesting was that when the penguin cluster broke up when the sun came out and the day warmed up, all the penguins that had been on the outside (cold penguins) formed a new, smaller cluster to warm up, and other penguins surrounded them.

I don't know how penguins compare to the movements of individual bees in a honeybee cluster, but I think it is plausible that a honeybee cluster could behave in a similar fashion. It's a superorganism in a cluster to regulate temperature in an environment where any individual would freeze to death on its own.

If you get a chance, I encourage folks to watch the PBS special, Nature: The Gathering Swarms.

I found a YouTube video of the broadcast. The penguin segment starts at the 13:00 mark.
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Allen Dick
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Re: Video of cluster movements

Unread post by Allen Dick »

Last I heard, the word is that bees do nor circulate through a winter cluster as previously thought.

It is an interesting topic.

On a slightly different note, but related, I have recently seen hives die from having an empty space above the cluster after consuming what should have been ample stores.

Hivetop feeders are a particular culprit if left over winter. They constitute a large empty (comb-free) space.

In nature there is never empty space above the combs since bees build comb from the top down, but beekeepers put feeders and other such spaces above clusters and bees move up off the combs into that space, and that can often lead to hive death.

Beekeepers, though, think the bees like that empty space up there since they cluster there and therefore defend the practice, even after losing large numbers of colonies. They just won't listen, it seems.

The thing is that the bees are then not on the combs, managing stores, warming brood and raising young. Old bees naturally seek the warmest place in the hive and go up into the empty spaces, leaving the brood rearing area under populated.

For some reason, bees live much longer on combs than clustered without comb An example is package bees. We know from experience that they should never be held without being hived for more than eight days. After that, the bees die off quickly.

Another problem with large spaces above the combs is that the bees cannot control the ventilation, and drafts through these open spaces can be stressful.
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Re: Video of cluster movements

Unread post by Colino »

I watched the show last week and that comparison never occurred to me. Good observation, I'll have to watch that part again.
Narcissism is easy because it's me or I, Empathy is hard because it's they or them.-Colino
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