Each worker bee performs a number of tasks in her hive as ages. She starts by cleaning her cell as she emerges, and (an incomplete list in no particular order) feeds larvae, guards the entrance, takes nectar from foragers and places it in cells, heats brood to keep it from chilling, fans the hive on hot days to cool it off, fans the hive to evaporate the moisture off the nectar to turn it into honey, forages for water, pollen, tree resin and nectar.
One important job is to remove dead bees and debris from the hive. If bees allowed detritus and dead bees to remain in the hive, bacterial, viral and fungal levels would increase. So the bee who removes dead bees is called an “undertaker bee” at least while she’s performing that job. This is an especially big task for bees in the spring when they are able to emerge out of the cluster they have to stay in in cold weather and they start to address all the bees that died over the winter in the hive.
Here’s a brief video of an undertaker bee trying to take advantage of the Kenyan Top Bar hive being open for feeding. I just couldn’t let her keep struggling. Gotta help a sister out! (Yep, imma bee hugger.)
Happy beekeeping everybody!