Did you ever wonder what bees do in Winter? No? Rats. Well, it’s pretty interesting actually (says the beekeeper). I was up at the apiary last weekend and wanted to check in on things. When we used to actually have cold winters, beekeepers had to make sure their bees were fed well in the fall and hope the bees had enough honey to survive the winter.
Bees huddle into a cluster when it is cold and they rub together to make heat through friction. The cluster of bees moves slowly through the hive during slightly warmer days to get to new food. When we have a normal winter, the bees slow somewhat and don’t go through lots of honey (i.e. they don’t starve to death). When it gets warm like it has been, the bees are more active than normal and tend to run through their stores of honey faster than they should. I took some sugar-water up to leave out for the bees since it is supposed to be pretty nice all week so hopefully I can balance out the increased honey consumption.
The good thing about this warmer weather is that the bees get to take a poop break. They don’t poop in their hive so they “hold it” all winter. It’s better for them if they get a break as you might imagine. Now I know you may be confused right now. I know, girls don’t poop and all of the bees in the winter hive are girls. Friends, I cannot explain it. Without any males in the hive (they are only there in the warm-weather hive), all I can figure is that some of the females turn into…well, you get it.
Anyhow, I checked out the hives and things looked good. A few bees came out in the cold to greet me and I listened to the other hives to make sure that each hive had bees. There is still a lot of winter left so who knows how things will end up, but I am hopeful for another strong start this spring!
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