What Bees Do in Winter – Part 2: Hedging their Bets for Survival

Right about now, many of us might bee celebrating the New Year. But arguably, for bees, THEIR New Year starts with the onset of Fall. More specifically, at the end of the summer, when you notice your flowers starting to fade and your garden starting to wither, THAT’s the start of the New Year, (so to speak), for bees.

The reason I say that is, when you start to notice everything in the garden dwindling, it means that there’s a substantial decrease in the amount of nectar and pollen that's available for the bees to collect. So you might say, the bees are forced to shift gears and downsize, in preparation for winter.

A number of important things bee-gin to happen at this very important time of year. First of all, as was previously explained in much more eloquent terms in last week’s “Beekeeping” blog, the women bees kick the males out, because the males eat too much and they don’t do any work (😉), making it tougher for the entire bee colony to survive the winter.

Another thing that happens is, the queen bee slows down the pace of her egg-laying, and the older bees die off, resulting in less mouths to feed over the winter.

The REALLY “cool” thing is, the baby bees that DO hatch at this important time of year, are fed a special diet that makes them grow into a very hardy type of (shall we say) ‘super-bee’, called “WINTER BEES”.

Winter bees are MUCH hardier than normal bees, although on the outside they look exactly the same as normal bees. They can live for 6 months or more, and it’s THEM that determine whether or not the whole bee colony will survive the winter. Winter bees are good, dutiful girls that take care of the queen bee’s every whim, help with the temperature regulation inside the hive over the winter, and raise the young bees who will eventually inherit the bee colony in the spring.

Scientists believe that these incredible winter bees evolved as a method of survival, way back when honey bees migrated to cooler climes.

AMAZING, right?? 😊

Stay tuned for more about beekeeping, and before I forget...

Happy New Year!!! 😊

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