Thursday, March 5, 2015

Midwinter: Remembering the Bees

How do those bees stay warm all winter?

With the cold temperatures outside, I’ve been thinking about how honey bees stay warm in the winter time — and specifically thinking about our hive, off in the corner by our little garden.

We don’t think about them much with the snow on the ground; they stay inside the hive, clustered around the queen to keep her warm, honey at the ready to feed everyone through the cold weather. Sort of like penguins, they huddle together with the bees on the outside keeping the inside bees warmer — except, unlike the penguins, they don’t rotate. The outer bees take the brunt, and many of them don’t make it to spring.

Really interesting to me is that they do more than huddle; they actively make heat for each other through friction, wiggling their flying muscles without moving their wings. No matter how cold it is outside, the queen is kept at a cozy 90-95 degrees F — as long as the honey supply lasts. When it warms up, they’re ready to get out there pronto — a “cleansing flight” is a bee’s first time out of the hive to answer the call of nature, so to speak.

Neat little animals. I put together a video to show how we came by our hive — from a swarm that formed one afternoon right on our next-door neighbor’s tree.

Still feeling cold? Warm up reading about the VW Bus Bed Build, the Treehouse Build, or the Solar Stock Tank Swimming Pool.

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