Honey Bees In Late Winter

Signs Of Life

This winter is erratic and harsher than usual.  The temperature swings this season have been like a trampoline.  From below zero to 5oº F. in just two days recently.  We have had plenty of snow this year; around two feet in the last two weeks alone.  My friends and colleagues have been asking about our bees.  They know I’ve wrapped the hives up pretty well but this winter has been different from previous years.

I didn’t really know how the bees were faring in their hives, but after yesterday’s snow the accumulation reached the hive landing, so I decided to check on them.  I found a few dead bees on the snow, one or two of them still alive, barely and it was 40º F. so I don’t know why they were out.  I wonder if they know they are dying and don’t want to burden their comrades to carry them out after death, so they willingly leave the hive when they still can.  Or, they mis-calculate the temperature outside which is very unlikely.

It’s too cold to open the hive at this time but the sign that there are live bees in there is a little open hole in the snow covering the upper entrance.  The bees need to regulate the temperature in the hive and keep it warm enough for their comfort.  The warm air they create rises up and comes out through the top entrance.  It wouldn’t be that easy for me to figure out if there weren’t any snow.  That little hole keeps my hopes up.

After the last snow finally reached the landing
After the last snow finally reached the landing
The third hive with a little hole in the snow by the top entrance
The third hive with a little hole in the snow by the top entrance
Up close on one of the hives.  Heat from the bees has opened it.
Up close on one of the hives. Heat from the bees has opened it.

4 thoughts on “Honey Bees In Late Winter

Add yours

  1. I’ve read that the snow can dazzle the bees’ three ocelli eyes on top of their head and confuse them. The ocelli eyes monitor light levels and usually the bees expect the brightest light to be coming from the sun above. If the snow is brighter that could lead them to fly towards it instead. That’s one theory anyway! I think you’re right about the dying ones leaving the hive while they still can. Will be thinking of you and the bees in all that snow.

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