Honeybees have a very interesting method of winter survival. Honeybees stop flying when the weather drops below 50 degrees. When the temperature drops below that, the bees all crowd into the lower central area of the hive and 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 around 80 degrees. 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 .
Hibernating honeybees have been studied and shown to consume up to 30 pounds of stored honey during the winter months, which helps the bees produce body heat. Heat energy is produced by the oxidation of the honey, and circulated throughout the hive by the wing-fanning of worker bees .
On warmer days, bees will venture out for short flights to eliminate body waste. The flights do not last long nor do the bees travel very far because if their body gets too cold they might not be able to return to the hive .
I thought this was all very interesting especially since I had no idea where the heck bees went in the winter! With all of the trendy folks in the cities becoming bee keepers, I thought I would learn a little more about where that sugary nomness that ends up on my greek yogurt came from. Todd Selby features one such keeper here in his short film Rockaway Taco.
The folks over at The Croft wrote a nice piece about their trials with transporting some bees around the highlands in Scotland.