Friday, February 18, 2011

Bee Warm

I was skiing pass the neighbors yesterday and decided to stop by for a quick hello. It was fall since last I'd seen them and was curious to how they were wintering over.

How cute, they still have their holiday decor up. I shout out a greeting....... no response. Have you ever wondered how honeybees survive our long cold winters? Hmmm......  Off I go and by chance come upon the hive manager and his kids bombing down through the woods on a backyard ski run (lucky kids). I ask him about the hive and he explains how the bees huddle together and shiver their wings to generate enough heat to stay warm. How cool warm is that? Apparently, the temperature can reach 95 degrees. Here's the story and to make sure my facts are straight I'll resource Wikipedia, though his version was far more interesting.

The Honey Bee and Winter survival

In cold climates honeybees stop flying when the temperature drops below about 50 degrees F and crowd into the central area of the hive to form a "winter cluster." The worker bees huddle around the queen bee at the center of the cluster, shivering in order to keep the center between 80 F at the start of winter (during the broodless period) and 93 F once the queen resumes laying. The worker bees rotate through the cluster from the outside to the inside so that no bee gets too cold. The outside edges of the cluster stay at about 46-48 degrees. The colder the weather is outside, the more compact the cluster becomes. During winter, they consume their stored honey to produce body heat. The amount of honey consumed during the winter is a function of winter length and severity but ranges in temperate climates from 30 to 100 lbs.


What a warm fuzzy bunch of friends. Did you know they can dance?

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