Have you ever wondered what bees do in winter?
Like squirrels collecting nuts, bees also plan ahead. Their entire focus all spring and summer long is preparing well for winter. They collect sweet nectar and dusty pollen, and then they prepare and store it for the depths of winter. The honey that humans didn’t remove from their hives after the harvest will be their edible protective insulation.
An attentive beekeeper will reduce the size of the entrance of the beehive to keep the cold out and make the bees less vulnerable to the elements, and maybe add some extra food to their stores to help get them through the winter when it is far too cold for them to fly outside.
This Scientific American video of what bees do in winter is only 2:39-minutes long:
Drones were pushed out of the hive in late autumn. All that’s left in the colony are the worker bees that huddle and cluster in close to the queen bee to keep her warm, as well as themselves, by hugging a lot. Even in such close quarters, they are not in hibernation-mode. They stay active. They are able to keep their hive at a nearly constant 90 degrees just by flapping their wings, shivering and vibrating, like little heat generators.
Winter is a time for the beekeeper to be more reflective, too, with an inward focus and some relaxing time spent in front of a warm fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa or tea. Now's a great time to figure out your garden flower strategy for the year ahead. Make lists and do your research.
As tempting as it might be to check on your bees, avoid doing so as it makes winter harder on them when you let the cold air into the hive, and it is challenging enough for them without having that happen. You may just bring about that which you most fear. Learn to let go and trust that your bees know what is best for them. And even in the sad event that they don’t survive the winter, you probably could not have done anything to have caused a different outcome.
Before you know it, your little bees will hopefully venture out of the hive and be buzzing around, enjoying warmer days and seeking out freshly budding blossoms.
So be present-moment. Don’t be impatient for spring. Enjoy the beauty of winter in the most comfortable way you can, snuggling up for a nap so you are strong and ready for spring.