Friday, December 31, 2010

Winter buzzing of the bees

Honey bees are insects. They do not hibernate in the winter but, they do go dormant in the cold weather. When our temps begin to lower the bees' internal metabolism slows down. When the temps go lower than 45'F their flight muscles move so slowly they cannot fly. The bees spend all their time and energy staying warm. They form a small ball about the size of a melon and use their kinetic energy to keep the center of the ball at or about 93'F. The outer layer of bees will expend their heat and move toward the center while those toward the center work their way to the outside.

During this time they must eat very small amounts of honey to stay alive and produce heat. Honey bees are VERY fastidious, for this reason they do not defecate inside their hive. During the cold days they will hold their waste and wait for a warmer sunny day to fly away from the colony and clean their gullets. In Northern climes beekeepers are concerned with the possibility of their colonies contracting dysentery due to the long periods of time with below freezing temps.

Our weather here in North Carolina brings us periodic relief to cold temperatures during the winter months. Christmas weekend we had 6'+ inches of snow fall here in Granville County but, today the temps at 53'F+ and the forecast is for temps above 65'F for tomorrow.

The video was taken this morning as the temp was reading 51'F. The bees are flying away from the hive, clearing their gullets, exercising their muscles and removing any trash from the hive. In January, they might even venture out and find a wee-bit of the black pollen from the red oak.


  1. Wow, stuff I never knew. Of course, I feel sympathy for the bees. If I had to venture out-of-doors to, er, clear my gullet, I'd probably hold out for a warmer day, too. Heh.

  2. Wow. Who knew?! Now if only I could teach little boys to be a bit more like bees.