honeybees and woodchips?

We had a chipping crew come out about a month ago and help us process some of the trees and branches that we have had to take down and clear out in preparation for the coming construction season. Once they were finished, we were left with several 10+ yard piles of wood chips around the property.

Yesterday morning, I was out moving some of the chips from a pile to the bases around the fig and persimmon trees. My honeybee hives are about a hundred feet away from this particular pile. Soon after I started working, I noticed that some of the forager honeybees were interested in what I was doing. Within a few minutes I had a good number of foragers checking out the woodchips… both the ones in the main pile and the chips that I had moved around the figs and placed as mulch.

The bees were landing on the chips and looking around for something and would occasionally pause. Their abdomens were pulsing, so I am thinking they were eating/drinking something from the woodchips.

I’ve read an account by Paul Stamets, I believe, that honeybees can drink/eat from fungal mycelium in some circumstances. Maybe this is what they were doing? Or perhaps just getting a drink of water since it had just rained the night before?

It seems odd, because we are right in the middle of the blackberry flowering period, so there is plenty of nectar and pollen available without having to go far. There is a small stream within a few hundred feet of the hives, too, so water shouldn’t be any trouble for them.

I’m very curious what would have been so attractive to the bees and interesting enough to go back and dance the signal that it was worth sending more foragers?


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