Once in a while, when examining a bee colony, you might notice bees hanging together in a kind of chain. This is called festooning. Festooning is seen most often when bees are constructing new comb or repairing old comb. The bees hang together between the frames that they are building, connected to each other by their legs. In a festoon the bees hang together in a single line, only one level deep – which is different than a typical “clump” of bees, which is many layers of bees deep. It appears that festooning bees are creating some sort of scaffolding from which to do their construction work.
Scientists do not really have a consensus as to the purpose of the festoon. Festooning behavior is clearly associated with wax production and comb building, yet why? Some believe that the purpose is mainly to scaffold, others believe that the festoon is a method of measuring distance between combs. (Precise distance between combs is very important to honeybees.) Others believe that it somehow is responsible for starting or increasing the flow of beeswax. Whatever the reason, the festoon is fun to watch, and is a sure sign that the bees are now in “construction mode.”