Winter is a tough time for bees. While the cold weather can be a challenge, it's nothing that a honey bee can't handle. In fact, they have adapted over time to survive even the harshest winters. But what do bees do during the winter? How do they stay warm and when do they stop working? Read on below to find out everything you need to know about bee behaviour during this season!
What do bees do during a cold winter?
When the temperature drops below a certain level, bees go into a state known as torpor. Torpor is similar to hibernation, except that it's not nearly as deep or long lasting. When the temperature is above freezing, bees will wake up and go about their normal lives. But if it gets too cold outside, they'll shut down completely until springtime!
While in this state of torpor, honey bees do not eat anything; they don't even move around very much at all. They just hang out in their hives until conditions are better suited for them to carry on with their regular daily activities again—which can take up to 10 months, depending on where you live.
No reproduction occurs during winter either: once springtime rolls around again (and after some warm days have passed), workers will emerge from their nests looking for pollen and nectar before restarting their regular routine.
How do bees stay warm in the winter?
The bees need to keep warm, and they do this in a number of ways.
The most obvious way is by using their wings to generate heat. Bees are actually able to direct air currents through their bodies and use them as a kind of radiator system.
Bees will also huddle together when it's cold outside so that collectively they can share body heat—like how you might huddle under an extra blanket on a cold night in bed with your partner.
Do bees make honey in winter?
No. Bees only make honey during the spring, summer and fall. So what do they eat during the winter? They eat their stored honey! This special food is called "honeycomb" and it's a source of nutrition for bees all year round.
It's a good thing that bees store honey, because it's hard to find food during the winter. The days are shorter and colder, so bees can't forage for nectar as easily. Many plants also stop producing flowers during this time of year.
How long can bees survive on honey stored for winter?
It depends on how cold it gets. If the winter is mild, they will use up their stores slowly over a period of many weeks. However, if it gets too cold and food is scarce, bees may not be able to survive on their stored honey.
What do beekeepers do in the winter?
Beekeepers can't just shut down their operations in the winter. Even though bees are not dormant, they still need care to stay alive and healthy. In fact, beekeepers must work harder during the winter months than at any other time of year. Here's what they do:
Keep bees warm. Beekeepers insulate hives with straw or hay to help keep the temperature inside around 16°C.
Feed bees sugar water until spring arrives. During cold weather, honeybees consume less nectar from flowers and need more energy from sugar syrup provided by beekeepers to stay warm and alive through the winter months.
Keep hives safe from predators like mice, moths and shrews who may try to enter your hive looking for food but don't have enough warmth or energy themselves!
We hope you've enjoyed learning about what bees do during the winter. There are many things to consider when caring for your bees, but they are a rewarding species to keep. If you have any questions or concerns about how to care for your own hives, please don't hesitate to contact us.