Tree opening to hive Bees investigate the opening of a new nest site in a hollow tree trunk.

When investigating a potential site for a new hive, scout bees carefully check the cavity to ensure it meets certain specifications. It must be large enough to hold a volume of not less than about six and a half gallons. It must have a small entrance that has a maximum diameter of about one and a half inches and that lies near the base to facilitate removal of waste. Finally, it should face south for warmth, and it should lie high off the ground to protect against predators. Once they have identified a suitable site, honeybees scrape off any loose wood or other debris and coat the interior surface with propolis, or dried tree resin. They then starting generating beeswax to build the combs.

Cluster of bees If this swarming honeybee colony cannot find a good site for a new hive soon, it will perish.

Photos: ©1998 ORF.

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