Fascinating close-up footage showing honey bees killing a queen bee has caused a stir on social media.
Earlier this month, Florida beekeeper Elisha Bixler shared a dramatic video of the “Queen Balling” on her TikTok account @howsyourdayhoney3. The video has already been viewed over 15 million times.
“Queen Balling” refers to the horrific process by which bees kill their queen. To do this, they form a tight ball around the queen and vibrate their wings to raise her body temperature, thereby suffocating her. At the same time, the bees continue to bite and sting the queen. It’s a fate that’s as terrifying as it sounds, as Bixler captured an up-close example of “Queen Balling” in the palm of her hand.
“I was shocked when I caught that on camera,” Bixler says in the clip. Moreover, their followers were equally stunned by what they saw. “New levels of fear unleashed,” one TikTok user wrote, while another user commented, “The sound alone makes me squirm.”
This is how honey bees kill a queen bee. #savethebees #savethequeen #beetok
♬ Original sound – Elisha Bixler
Others were stunned by Bixler’s ability to remain so calm while holding a bee ball. “Did you just touch a bee ball?” asked one TikTok user, while another wrote, “I’m scared for your right hand now.”
Although stings from bees, hornets or wasps can be uncomfortable, they pose a relatively small threat to our general well-being.
According to data collected from 2000 to 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were a total of 1,109 deaths from hornet, wasp, and bee stings. This corresponds to an annual average of 62 deaths. Of these, about 80 percent of the deaths were male.
Not that Bixler is overly afraid of getting stung. “I have been involved with bees for eight years and have worked closely with them. I understand her behavior,” she told Newsweek. “There are times when I would never approach a hive or a group of bees without proper protection. In this case, I took a risk and picked up the bee ball.”
An example of “Queen Balling” up close can be seen. Queen balling is the process by which bees kill their queen. To do this, they form a tight ball around the queen and vibrate their wings to raise her body temperature, thereby suffocating her. howyourdayhoney3
Bixler works as a beekeeper in St. Petersburg, Florida. With her business, How’s Your Day Honey, she rescues and cares for honey bees from residential, commercial and recreational areas in the area.
In the viral video, she describes queen bee balling as one of the “most brutal” things that can happen to bees.
“The queen bee is the mother of all the bees in her colony,” Bixler said. “She has been looked after by her daughters all her life. There are times when the queen needs to be dethroned, and queen balling is how honey bees do that. The queen may need to be dethroned because she is losing her ability to lay eggs.” Pheromones are weakening, or she is an imposter from another hive. Although she is the queen, her daughters make all decisions about the operation and health of the hive.
Bixler believes she’s witnessed the queen’s balling at least “10 times” so far. There were no problems on this occasion, however, and Bixler intervened to save the queen.
“I became interested in their behavior and wanted to find out what was going on in the ball,” she said. “As I began removing the bees from the ball, their whistles and cries for help spurred me to come to her aid and eventually find her a new colony and home. She is currently laying eggs and building a beehive in a honey producing apiary.”
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