During the winter season, while bears hibernate and birds migrate south, bees have their own unique strategies to deal with the cold temperatures. One way bees prepare for winter is by collecting a reserve of honey.
When the temperature drops to the 50s, honeybees return to the hive. As the weather gets colder, the honeybees gather in the center of the hive and form a “winter cluster.” This cluster resembles a huddle at a football game, but it lasts throughout the entire winter.
Bees have a primary responsibility during winter, which is to take care of the queen bee. This involves keeping her safe and warm.
To achieve this, worker bees surround the queen and form a cluster with their bodies. The worker bees then flutter their wings and shiver. This continuous movement and energy expenditure help maintain a warm temperature inside the hive.
In order to keep shivering, the bees need a sufficient supply of honey, which provides them with energy. One of the beekeeper’s crucial tasks during winter is to ensure that the honey supply remains full so that the bees can continue shivering.
Although the queen is always at the center of the cluster, worker bees take turns moving from the outside to the inside of the cluster to avoid getting too cold. The temperature within the cluster ranges from 46 degrees on the outer side to 80 degrees in the interior. As the weather gets colder, the cluster becomes more compact.
To generate body heat and survive, honeybees rely on honey for energy. Some studies have shown that honeybee hives can consume up to 30 pounds of stored honey throughout a single winter. On warmer days, bees briefly leave the cluster to eliminate waste outside the hive.
Interesting facts about bees:
- Honeybees are the only insects that produce food consumed by humans.
- Worker honeybees are female.
- An average worker bee produces only 1/12 teaspoon of honey during her lifetime.
- A worker bee lives approximately 6 weeks, while the queen bee can live up to 5 years.
- Honey never spoils.
- To produce one pound of honey, bees need to visit 2 million flowers.
Give It a Try
Are you prepared for winter? Ask a friend or family member to join you in exploring the following activities:
During the winter, humans make certain changes to deal with the cold weather. We modify the type of clothing we wear and adjust our leisure time activities. When the temperature drops below freezing and the winds outside are howling, it’s a good idea to stay indoors and play. One way to stay extra warm is by using a blanket. You can even create a blanket fort for more fun! Online, you can find amazing ideas for blanket forts that others have made when it’s cold outside. Another activity that can be done during the winter is making homemade bird feeders. All you need are everyday ingredients like a bagel, honey, bird seed, and yarn. Cut the bagel in half and tie a piece of yarn through the center of each half. Make sure the loop is large enough to easily slip over a tree branch. Spread honey on the flat side of the bagel and sprinkle birdseed generously over it. Then, find the perfect spot in your backyard for the feeders. The birds will be grateful and sing your praises. If you want to learn more about winter and bees, you can visit the following sources: