When the temperature drops below about 10 degrees Celsius and flowers aren’t in bloom, the bees won’t leave the hive. However they will fly out on warm sunny days in the winter to stretch their legs.
They’re like ants, the colder it gets the less movement and food they use as they form a ball to keep themselves, the brood and the Queen warm. The honey acts like insulation on the side of a house. The bees cluster around the queen to keep her warm and safe. Like penguins, they take turns moving from the inside of the ball to the outside so everyone has a chance to be nice and warm. The colder it is, the more compact the cluster. Heat is created by the worker bees clustering and bees take turns moving from the inside to the outside of the cluster. This ensures no bee will freeze.
They normally don’t leave the hive until the temperature reached 12 degrees where they will search for pollen and water.
The main purpose of the worker bees during the winter is to look after their Queen so that she can re-colonise the hive in the spring. The Queen stops laying for about a week or two depending on the climate of the area to control numbers inside the hive, this is called the 'broodless period'.
Because of the climate in South Canterbury, the hive reduces in numbers from about 90,000-70,000 to about 10,00-15,000 because they don't need as many workers due to the fact as they’re not gathering nectar and pollen.
The drones (male bee) populations decrease significantly as the queen doesn’t need them to reproduce during this time and to keep food stores up for the rest of the hive for the winter. They will keep some drones for reproduction for emergency’s.
The goal is too look after the Queen and the larvae to survive the winter. ❄️
Then we go into Spring!
How incredible are bees! 🐝🤗