What happens to honey bees in winter? – In winter, bees do not leave the hive for several months. Instead, they live together in a winter cluster, keeping each other warm. In the cluster, they share the work: The bees on the cold outside of the cluster are regularly replaced and fed by bees from the warmer center. The bees shut down their metabolism and can feed on the stocks stored in the hive in winter.
The most important of all bees, the queen, is protected from cold in the middle of the cluster. Thanks to the hard work of worker bees, the temperature there is always at least 25 degrees.
The bees heat up the hive by trembling their muscles, similar to when they fly. When they have no more brood in the hive, they sometimes let the temperature drop to ten degrees Celsius. If it gets too cold for them, they heat the hive up to 30 degrees Celsius within a day. At these temperatures, their food – the honey becomes liquid again and they can eat it.
Why bees live longer in winter?
Because they spend most of their lives in one place and don’t have to fly.
Flying is physically demanding for the bees. The winter bees only fly out for a short cleaning flight on particularly warm days. They defecate outside the hive to keep it clean inside.
A so-called winter bee hatches in autumn and lives a good five to six months. A worker bee that hatches in the spring, on the other hand, only lives about six weeks. As soon as the temperatures rise a little, the hibernation gradually ends. The honey bees start looking for the first early bloomers to collect pollen and nectar for their brood.
By the way, only worker bees (female) live in winter.
The drones (male bees) were already thrown out of the hive in late summer because they would now only use up food unnecessarily.
And there is another adaptation to the nutrient-poor season: while a bee colony can consist of up to 50,000 bees in summer, there are only around 20,000 bees in the winter months.