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The hive can be seen when an Infestation happens, or found in an ancient structure. It will spawn around 40 tiles from itself 20 Insect jelly between 10.4 and 12 game hours and 1 Glow pods between 12 and 24 game hours right next to it. They will also spawn insects, like megaspiders, megascarabs and spelopedes. Unless there are any megaspiders or spelopedes that can tend to the hives, the hives will destroy themselves after about 2.5 hours in game. If left alive for 2 days, each hive will spawn another hive with an insect to tend it (not a full wave of insects as during first few seconds of Infestation).
Insects spawned from a hive have a specific AI: they stay near the hive, randomly mine tiles and attack creatures other than wild animals within a fixed radius from the hive. They will not chase anything too far from the hive and don't defend themselves from attackers outside the radius. An insect that stops chasing a target and is retreating to the hive will not fight back except in melee or against attackers within aggro radius of the hive. Random mining may cause collapsing ceilings.
Hives will not spawn on tiles without roof, but may be spawned (during reproduction rather than the primary infestation) on tiles without overhead mountain. As the number of hives increases, so does the time between reproductions. New hives are created within few tiles from the parent hive - often close enough for a single fire to destroy a cluster of hives.