Brrr, its cold outside, the thermometer tells us its nine degrees, but the bees are ‘flying’.
As mentioned before honeybees don’t hibernate, but they’ll ‘snuggle’ up together much like penguins do on the ice.
When they sense the temperature is right, they’ll venture out to find nectar and pollen, in addition to using some of their stores (stores are the stocks of food that the summer bees worked hard for before dying off).
Picture a hive like a high-rise office building; the colony will gather around their queen to keep her warm and fed, groom her and other tasks like keeping the hive tidy – bees are very house proud.
Travel upwards not sideways
The bees will cluster and to get to their stores they will travel upwards, but not sideways, they won’t break away from the queen, which can result in the death of the colony, so if the stores are out of reach, as in sideways, they won’t survive.
When checking on the state of the colony you’ll be looking for evidence of stores being close by. One way to ensure that they have some stores to hand is to provide them with a block of beekeeping candy (a tasty lump of sugar) and placing this above the queen and her worker bees.
When checking the state of our colonies, Peter found that one hive had succumbed to starvation! When testing the weight of the hive, it appeared to be heavy enough not to warrant adding stores, but after looking inside Peter could see the store cupboard was solid which resulted in them not having access to liquid honey.
Outside the hive there are plenty of snowdrops and catkins, which is a good sign that spring is not too far away, but winter is not over yet, so keeping a close eye on your hives is still necessary.