By Kathy Keatley Garvey (Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World) May 29, 2012

Ever seen honey bees engaging in washboarding? 

It's a behavior so named because they look as if they're scrubbing clothes on a washboard or scrubbing their home.

It occurs near the entrance of the hive and only with worker bees. They go back and forth, back and forth, a kind of rocking movement. No one knows why they do it. It's one of those unexplained behaviors they've probably been doing for millions of years.

Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey of the University of California, Davis and Washington State University, has witnessed washboarding scores of times. Last week the unusual behavior occurred on two of her hives at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. She hypothesizes that these bees are in the "unemployment line." It's a time when foraging isn't so good, so these bees are "sweeping the porch" for something to do, she speculates.

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Check out the marvelous inspirational article about Kathy Keatley Garvey in the June 2012 issue of the American Bee Journal. It features more beautiful bee photography by Kathy Keatley Garvey and a walk in her garden.