Hey, how do bees make it through a cold winter anyway? Do the bees simply die off during the winter, leaving the queen to carry on the species?
Not quite. What actually happens is far more incredible. Worker bees can not only survive some of the coldest temperatures our continent has to offer, they actually manage to thrive under these harsh conditions.
The key to their survival? Something you and I do every day.
Peas In A Pod
How do bees keep warm? According to Heather Mattila, an assistant professor at Wellesley College, they hug.
The method used by bees is actually quite amazing, as they form a cluster and use the heat generated by this process to warm the hive and themselves. The bees move their wings at a rapid pace throughout the winter, creating more energy and, therefore, more heat.
Generally, speaking, the clusters are somewhere between a softball and basketball in size, with the larger clusters being more efficient at creating warmth.
As you’d expect, the queen bee is at the center of the cluster, but the workers move from the outside to the inside periodically, so every bee has a chance to warm up and get something to eat.
A Bee’s Gotta Eat
Speaking of food, if you had the ability to create delicious honey for yourself, you’d probably eat it, right? Bees aren’t much different from you or me, as they use their preserved honey for sustenance all winter long.
While this means there’s less honey for you in the spring, it actually keeps the bees alive to continue producing; it’s well worth the trade-off.
The carbohydrate-rich honey diet is necessary because of how many calories the bees burn not only keeping themselves warm but their queen as well.
Really Good Insulation
Bees generate wax, which is used to fill any holes in the hive during the winter. Basically, this wax is insulation that keeps heat in and cold out.
The next time you see a bee in March, show it the respect it deserves for handling winter far better than we humans could ever hope to do in the wild.