During the winter, bees are not hibernating. That is a misconception. The bees are huddled in a mass. Sometimes referred to as a cluster. In the center is the queen. The bees thrive to make the hive a cozy 92 degrees F all year around. They vibrate their bodies to generate heat and rotate from the outer layer of the mass inward, taking turns being exposed to the most extreme temperatures. The hive during the winter is ALL female. The drones are all thrown out during the fall and not allowed back inside. Without the hive, the drones die. The drone has 2 purposes in life – 1. is to eat the food that the girls produce (all worker bees are girls) and 2. is to wait and hope for an encounter with a virgin queen. The 1st purpose is met constantly and that is why the females throw the males out, so the food stores (honey) are available all winter to ensure the queen lives till spring when the hive will explode with new bees… both male and female.
There are differing thoughts on rather or not to wrap the hive during the winter. We have listened to both sides make their arguments with passion. Yes, bees are in Canada and areas further north. Yes, we understand, nature does not provide blankets for the bee. But, our successful first year, with 0% loss over the winter, is what we have experienced. Until such a time as we experience something contrary, we will continue to wrap our hives in the winter. They face the western wind. We will continue to duplicate what worked for us our first successful year.
On a warm winter day (above 50), you will see the girls coming and going. They are taking ‘cleansing flights’. The honeybee holds their ‘poo’ until they can leave the hive and relieve themselves. Sometimes, that is weeks…. and even months. If it’s a warm 40, they will make a quick flight out and back. If it’s a windy damp 40, they will stay in. This CAM is live. You may see a leaf blow or a squirrel. If you see a bear, CALL US IMMEDIATELY (304-437-1221)! However, the bees are likely snug in their cluster and any activity you may or may not see is determined by the weather.