They suspect that inner bees within the curtain stretch their limbs against the comb, thereby expanding the inner nest area where the queen and her brood often are. This expansion likely lowers the hive's internal pressure and draws in cool fresh air.
The ventilation cycle then probably completes when the curtain bees relax, causing warm, stale air to push out through the living curtain.
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The process is incredibly effective, enabling brood incubation within narrow temperature limits at a toasty, yet not burnt to a crisp, 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
The hive's temperature may also be affected when many bees simultaneously take a bathroom break.
As the researchers wrote, "Regularly, periodic mass flight activity dramatically affects the interior nest milieu, when a good part of colony members set off to defecate ...(which succeeds in) dumping excessive heat."
The bee superorganism is perhaps most impressive when someone decides to attack the nest.
In a flash, according to the scientists, the bee curtain opens up "in preparation for the mass release of flying guards."
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