What do Bees do All Winter?
“The bee, from her industry in the summer, eats honey all the winter.-Proverb
Some people think that honey bees hibernate all winter, but really, they remain active, even in our cold Wisconsin climate. Their ability to survive depends on the food supply available to them. Mostly it consists of honey left in the hive, which they have stored during the warm months. The bees form a cluster around the queen and brood, and this cluster of bees is what keeps them warm. As temperatures drop, the cluster tightens. During warmer spells the bees feed on the honey stores and go back into their cluster when the weather turns colder.
At this time of the year, northern beekeepers are anxious to know if their bees have made it through the long cold winter. Waiting for warm days is difficult, but surely a 40 degree day will urge the beekeeper to check hives, add food if needed and enjoy a happy dance to find the hives alive, buzzing and well.
This is a busy time of the year in the apiary, as the beekeeper prepares needed additional beehives, orders packages of bees and performs general cleanup of all the equipment.