What Happens To Our Bees in Winter?
We can certainly say, after a heavy covering of snow and a definite drop in the temperature Winter is in full swing – Unfortunately bee’s can’t wrap up warm like we do, so what do they do?
Honeybees head to the hive when temperatures drop into the 50s. As the weather becomes cool, the honeybees gather in a central area of the hive and form a “winter cluster.” A winter cluster is much like a huddle you may have seen at a football game — except it lasts all winter!
Bees have one main job in the winter — to take care of the queen bee, they must keep her safe and warm.
In order to do so, worker bees surround the queen and form a cluster with their bodies. The worker bees then flutter their wings and shiver. This constant motion and continuous use of energy is how the bees keep the inside temperature of the hive warm.
In order to keep shivering, the bees must have enough honey. This is how they get their energy. One of the most important jobs of the beekeeper in the winter is to make sure the honey supply stays full so the bees can keep shivering.
Though the queen is always at the centre of the cluster, worker bees rotate from the outside to the inside of the cluster, so no individual worker bee gets too cold. The temperature of the cluster ranges from 46 degrees at the exterior to 80 degrees at the interior. The colder the weather is outside, the more compact the cluster becomes.
In order to produce body heat and stay alive, honeybees must rely on honey for energy. Some studies have found that hives of honeybees will consume up to 30 pounds of stored honey over the course of a single winter. On warmer days, bees will leave the cluster briefly in order to eliminate body waste outside the hive.
Throughout the Autumn and Winter months only very little honey made so the bees only have their stocks left behind from the beekeeper to last them till early spring. This is why it is important for there to be good weather in the spring, summer and early autumn so that there is enough honey produced for us all to eat throughout the year.
Be like a bee this winter and survive on delicious raw honey!