We talk about our bees in the Spring when we first open our hives. We talk A LOT about our bees in the Summer as the hives grow and the honey comes in. We even talk about our bees in the Fall when we're getting them "ready" for winter.
But, we don't talk about our bees in the Winter...
As beekeepers who overwinter in Ohio, this is the time we do the least with our bees, but worry the most. We worry because we have absolutely no control over what's going on in the hives. We spend the other three seasons building strong hives, protecting them from pests and giving them food to survive...and then it's up to the bees. The thing that we have to remember is that bees have been overwintering without our help for a long time.
So, what's going on in those hives right now?
When the temperatures drop, the drones (male bees) die off and it's just the queen and the worker bees. The worker bees crowd together with the queen in the center forming a winter cluster; they shake to generate heat - keeping the core temperature ~90 degrees. To survive, they move as a cluster throughout the hive to reach honey stores.
Looking out at our hives, surrounded by snow, we patiently wait for warmer days and signs that we're ready to start another successful year of bees.