One of the attitudes that I sometimes see in conventional beekeeping - which, of course, is a product of the worldview that often accompanies that kind of beekeeping - is this: "The bees are not always capable of making good choices and correct decisions, sometimes I have to intervene and save them from themselves."
If there is ever a time when there is any truth to that, I believe that it stems from the fact that conventional beekeeping equipment - i.e., Langstroth hives and all that goes along with them - does not give the bees the tools they need to control the micro-ecology and micro-climate of their hive cavity.
They are capable of so much more than we realize!
In my Bee Tree hives, I give the bees multiple screened vent holes, at the top of their hive cavity, so that they can control both the amount and route of the air moving through the hive. They do so by propolising each of those screens in the amount that they determine to be best for creating the correct micro-climate inside the hive cavity.
I have seen them do everything from completely closing off every screened vent hole...
to chewing the screens off in order to create more entrances...
and everything in between.
I've always thought that the screens make it easier for the bees to propolise each vent hole to the degree that they want. I still believe that's true.
But, once again, they have surprised me with their capability. This colony - without any kind of screen - is using propolis to greatly reduce their entrance size as winter approaches. The entrance originally had an area of 2 square inches - as per Dr. Thomas Seeley's research demonstrating that this is the preferred entrance size for honey beee colonies - but this colony has reduced it considerably.
The bees have taught me at least two things with this behavior:
1) We cannot make hard and fast rules about honey bee behavior. They will always continue to surprise us with their ingenuity if given the chance.
2) They are capable of so much more than we typically imagine.