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Bees Go Quackers!!

Scientists using highly sensitive vibration detectors have decoded honeybee queens' "tooting and quacking" duets in the hive.

Worker bees make new queens by sealing eggs inside special cells with wax and feeding them royal jelly. When ready to emerge the queens quack -but if two are free at the same time, they will fight to the death. So when one hatches, its quacks turn to toots, telling the workers to keep the queens , still quacking , captive. The queens responding to each other can be plainly heard.

It has been assumed that the queens were talking to other queens -possibly sizing one another up vocally to see who is strongest but there is another explanation.

Tooting, it has been found, is a queen moving around the colony, announcing her presence to the workers.

The quacking is from queens that are ready to come out but are still captive inside their cells.

The queens are not talking to each other but communicating between the queen and the worker bees, an entire society of tens of thousands of bees trying to release one queen at a time.

Quacking queens are purposefully kept captive by the worker bees -they will not release the quacking queens because they can hear the tooting of the queen

When the tooting stops, that means the queen would have swarmed [split the colony and set out to find a new nest] and this triggers the colony to release a new queen.

All decisions are group decisions, it's the worker bees that decide if they want a new queen or not

Pollinating insects face numerous threats, including from pesticides, habitat loss and climate change. Beekeepers, and the hives they provide, are crucial for honeybee survival in the UK so please protect them by leaving some of the wild flowers and weeds in your garden.

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