Bees are very particular about what stays in the hive and what doesn’t. The photo below shows a colony of bees eating a sugar cake that was served on a paper plate. They are happy to have the sugar, but see no use use for the plate. So they chew it into small pieces and carry it out, or if the weather is too cold, they leave the scraps on the bottom board until later. This group of bees is just getting started. I’ve recovered paper plates where nothing was left but the outer ring.
In the second photo you can see what I call “hop fluff.” This is the stuff left over after the bees have taken the cardboard HopGuard strips out of the hive. These particles are quite small and have fallen through the screened bottom board to the varroa drawer underneath. A modern shredder couldn’t begin to compete.
It seems that removing foreign objects from the hive is related to hygienic behavior. Anything the bees didn’t put in the hivesuch as paper plates, newspaper, cardboard, wood chips, hive beetles, wax moths, etcthey will remove if they can. Similarly, diseased pupae, deformed adults, and dead bees are all removed to limit the spread of disease and avoid wasting resources on non-productive members. In addition, moldy combs are scrubbed clean, and used brood cells are polished and prepped.
Now, if I could only get them to work my garage.