• Barb Kreller

What do bees do in the winter???

Bees are not native to Alberta. Asia and Europe are where they are thought to originate, and for the last few decades Australia, New Zealand, California have been raising and supplying the world with the amazing honey bee. Though they did not start here, they seem to thrive here in Alberta, and have been thriving for generations on our lush flowering crops, our temperate to hot summers, and even despite the wicked cold winters.

A strong, healthy hive of honey bees has no problem surviving our winter conditions. A strong hive has a strong queen who makes lots...and LOTS of new bees all summer long. Thousands of eggs a day for 12 weeks adds up to a vast number of bees estimated at 30,000 - 80,000 for an average hive. Ideally all those bees will participate in the hive life, bringing in pollen and nectar for food, collecting water, and making sure the new eggs and larvae are fed and warm all spring and summer. By the time the snow flies, hives weigh hundreds of pounds of honey, pollen, wax and bees. Over winter Honey bees do not "hibernate" they just stay inside for the most part, keep doing their in-house chores but they also use their ability to shake and vibrate to create heat with their bodies. Making sure the hive is properly ventilated is very important too. They can close openings that let in wind and drain heat, as well as control and push air throughout the hive to keep temperature regulated and the air fresh. Working together they keep the internal hive temperature at 28-30 degrees Celsius even when the outside temperature drops. Of course extreme cold is very difficult on any creature, but bees do their best and usually come out ok.

Honey bees are very sterile creatures. Honey has antibacterial properties from the process of making honey, and bees collect resin from trees to make a substance called Propolis. This is a powerful and useful product. It acts as a glue within the hive, the bees can close holes, but it has been proven to have properties to prevent diseases, parasites, fungal and bacterial growth. Bees clean and dispose of any waste they can outside the hive. If there is anything they can not move such as a small mouse they can use propolis to encase the carcass, essentially mummifying it and making it odorless and harmless.

They will hold their bowel movements for weeks to months. they wait until it gets warm enough to fly a little away from the hive. Then it is pretty epic for a little body!

I hope that was a little helpful.

have a lovely day

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