(Community Matters) from our friend & beekeeper Micah King:
“The most interesting of all the hive sounds, however, is the piping of the queen. Naturalists have long known that queens inside the hive emit two kinds of sound, called “tooting” and “quacking.” A close analysis of these sounds and the circumstances of their emission now provides the strongest evidence that bees use sound to convey specific messages.
Tooting is the regal identification of a virgin queen soon after she has emerged from the cell in which she developed. A hive cannot tolerate more than one queen at a time. In a hive that lacks a queen several queen-bearing cells develop simultaneously in a comb, but one matures earlier than the others. Once this queen has emerged, has hardened and has become steady on her legs, she proceeds to visit other queen cells, tear them open and sting to death their potential but not yet mature queens. Often, however, the worker bees do not allow her to dispose of all her potential rivals in this way; they bar her from some of the cells. She then begins to toot and continues to do so day and night, perhaps for a week or more. Her tooting rises in intensity and sometimes can be heard more than 10 feet from the hive.
Meanwhile the maturing queen bees still in cells try to get out in their turn. The worker bees hold them back, however; as fast as one of them opens the cap of her cell the workers push it back in place and glue it shut. Thereupon the imprisoned queens also start to pipe, but in a different pattern and at a lower tone than the free queen. The workers let out some of these quackers, but only one at a time. The reigning queen and the newly released rival then battle until one is killed. Sometimes the series of fights between the survivor and the new rivals goes on until only one queen is left. This survivor, still a virgin, then flies away from the hive to mate successively with several drones (on the wing) and returns to begin laying eggs.
go to utube and hear a piping queen