queen bees

Queen piping: listen!

Want to hear what the queen has to say? James Graham sent the following two short clips of queens piping in his top-bar hive. He said his bees swarmed about a week ago, and he believes these piping queens are the potential heirs.

The first clip is short. The second is longer, with a silent portion in the middle. In either case, crank up your volume to hear them clearly.

Thanks, Jim! Very cool.

Queen piping James Graham

Queen piping 2 James Graham

Related Post:

Piping, quacking, and tooting: It’s a queen thing


  • Sounds like the piping is happening through the cell wall, or is being muffled by the hive. I have never ever heard it sound like this, although the periodic nature of the call is very similar. It is usually more high pitched without a barking quality of this recording.

    I am now hatching queens daily and adding them to the mating nucs. The first thing carni queens like to do is to pipe close to the comb upon release. Italians do too, but not nearly as often.

    I am only mentioning this in case people hear something else and are confused by it. In the open air it should be something like a long buzz followed by a short ones after that. Beeeeeez buz buz buz. Often the sequence is repeated multiple times, until she is satisfied that there is no competition around.

    • Aram,

      My queens sound just like this recording, but mine are inside the hive as well.

      Are you grafting your queens?

  • Have to say that it sounds like dogs barking but will be recognisable now I have heard it, will send in the mobile phone before opening in future.
    Great articles, keep them coming.


  • Thank you for sharing. I had no idea bees could make any sound but buzz. Awesome!
    I have inherited my bees from my dad who has kept bees for over 40 years. Swarming was something that was dreaded and avoided at all costs, but I get the feeling from your posts that it is ok to let them swarm. Is it better to let them swarm and hope they move into your swarm trap or split them manually?

    • Bruce,

      Swarming is a form of reproduction. Only healthy, vibrant colonies swarm so it indicates you are doing something right. However, losing that many bees is no fun because it certainly lowers your honey production. Also, if you live near other people, swarming bees can annoy or frighten the neighbors, something you don’t want to do.

      I always think it best to proactively split so you can avoid losing the bees. It doesn’t always work. Yesterday, I went to split a hive and just as I got there, it swarmed. Really annoying.

      At any rate, try to prevent losing your swarm if you can, but think of a swarmy colony as one that is doing well and doing what bees are designed to do. Then work with the swarm, not against it.

  • Hi Rusty, great clips! By what method do the queens produce this sound? Is it wing buzz, or leg rub, or something else? I also have a clip of piping queens in my hive, shall I share it? If so, how should I send it?

  • Rusty,

    Have been grafting since early April, so far so good. The method by which the sound is made is by vibrating their wings and letting them hit each other in the middle. If you look at the bee from the top, imagine the wings moving away from the body and them come toward the middle, with no up and down motion. If the queen lowers herself to the comb, then it projects the sound further. All movement ceases when she does the piping. This is the sound I hear when mine pipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYecvVhkpKI. As you can see, sounds a lot more higher pitched.

  • Hi amazing, I thought that geese were flying overhead when I first heard it. It does also sound like dogs barking in the background. I must go and see if I can hear my bees : )

  • Are you all absolutely sure that the barking noise is a queen that is tooting/piping? I, like a few others that have posted, have only heard that high pitched long note, followed sometimes by shorter pulsing-type high pitched notes. The bark sound and the high pitch sound are so different that I have to wonder if they are really the results of the same phenomena.

    • Vicki,

      Yes. Absolutely sure. Recall that queens make different noises depending where they are (in the cell vs running on the frame) and what they are trying to communicate. Not only the pitch, but also the length can be different. Because the sounds are so varied, many words have been applied to describe them: tooting, barking, quacking, chirping, piping, clucking, and many others. In any case, you know what it is when you hear it.

  • I just had a hearing test a few weeks ago. With only my laptop speakers, this was another. Cool sound, though. Also, I appreciate the explanation by AramF.

  • This information has been invaluable to me! By doing a bit of online research I now know that I have bees in my cavity wall/ flu. I’ve heard squeaking exactly the same as some of the recordings on here for a couple of weeks. A friend suggested bees, which I thought was ludicrous, but when I googled ‘squeaking bees’, it described piping … I’d being trying to describe the noises I was hearing and it is exactly this. Sure enough, I can see them coming in and out of the roof near an old flue pipe. Next step is what to do about them!?

  • Had bees in fascia last year. They leave at end of July and do no harm. They have returned this summer and the queen is barking like a dog today.I googled the noise and found this site.

  • I have an interesting scenario for you Rusty, concerning piping/tooting. We did our second inspection of our long hive yesterday and found many queen cells, a couple capped and the rest uncapped, but about 50% along. One cell looked cut open at its bottom and inside was a dried up white thing. Maybe a failed queen larvae, maybe leftover food/royal jelly from a newly emerged queen?

    We removed all the uncapped and left the two remaining capped cells. As we were doing this, we heard and saw the queen walking around piping/tooting. First the long sound, then the few blips after it. Hmmmmm… Is this the overwintered old queen or did we miss a swarm and this is a newly emerged virgin queen? What do you think? I’ve read that mated queens will sometimes toot before swarming.

    Much appreciation, Drew

    • Drew,

      I honestly don’t know. Usually, if the weather is good, the swarm leaves as soon as the queen cells are capped. But if conditions are not right, the new queen can emerge before the swarm leaves. Also, more than one could have emerged. As for old queens tooting, I don’t think they do, but a newer queen might toot before swarming if it’s a secondary or tertiary swarm. Normally the old queen leaves with the primary swarm.

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