Friday, January 14, 2011

Buzzin' in a Winter Wonderland!

What happens to the honeybees in the winter?  This is a common question when we talk to groups of all ages.  Let's look at what happens to the honeybees in the winter months. 

First of all, what the bees do depends on where you live.  It's easier for the bees to overwinter in Florida where flowers bloom all year long than in Minnesota where it snows from November through March.

Clustering around the queen
When there are no flowers blooming, the honeybees eat the honey that they've stored up all summer long.  The worker bees form a cluster (a ball of bees) around the queen bee to keep her warm.  In fact, even if it's freezing outside, the honeybees will keep their cluster at 57 degrees Fahrenheit.  The bees move as a cluster eating honey.

The drone bees being kicked out of the hive in the fall!

I said the worker bees surround the queen.  So, what happened to the drones?  Because the drones don't help in the hive and eat more food, the drones are actually kicked out of the hive in the fall.  In the winter, it's just the girls!

The queen bee may stop layings eggs for part or all of the winter.  As it starts to get warmer, she'll begin to lay eggs.  This is so new workers bees are ready to collect nectar and pollen at the beginning of spring!
"Bee in the Know":  Some beekeepers move their beehives to southern states during the winter. 

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