It's hard to be original when it feels that it's all been said. So instead of drilling over this year, that is memorable for all the wrong reasons, I thought we all needed some good news, and I want to share what I found in the apiary on Tuesday.
People often ask what bees do in the winter, and many wonder if they hibernate. The answer is that they cluster to keep each other warm, and to protect the her majesty, the queen, because without a queen, there is no colony, and since there are no eggs to make a new queen now, she is their only chance of survival!
The bees make sure she's nice and toasty so that in February she can start laying eggs again to start the new cycle.
We leave the bees about 60 pounds of honey per hive to survive the winter. I often try to err on their side and leave some extra, but just in case, we also give them granulated sugar right at the top of the hive. As my British friends would say, a belt and braces approach to keeping bees.
Since the bees form a cluster, it is not easy to move sideways, I guess they tend to go up where it is warmer, and in their way up they consume the honey they go through. That means that even if there is honey on the edges of the hive, they will not break the cluster to go get it. It's hard to move in the cold when you don't have warm blood.
I remember last year cleaning up some bees that I though were dead, and trowing them in the trash in the kitchen, only to find out that when they warmed up, they were happy healthy bees. Yes, I ended up bringing back to the hive.
There's a fun fact about bees and the cluster, and it is that there are some special bees called "heater bees". With the right equipment you can see the trace of heater bees moving around the cluster warming everybody up. How cool is that?!
I want to leave you with this video from Tuesday, where you can see some happy bees, including one hitching a ride (!), and how I give the bees granulated sugar.
Wishing you the best possible 2021!
Adriana and the bees
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