An Extra Blanket for the Bees

Author: Meera, November 13, 2013

 

Honeybees make a nice sundown snack for marauding skunks and raccoons

Honeybees will form a cluster near the center of the hive to generate warmth in winter

 

 

With Thanksgiving only a couple of weeks away, weather is turning downright frosty at night. I asked my beekeeper neighbor if it was time for us to throw some blankets over the hives to help the beleagured honeybees stay warm. We did this last year along with feeding the bees with a good result of thriving hives in the spring.

 

 

In the wintertime, the honeybees cluster toward the middle of the hive, their muscles responsible for flight now shivering (albeit in a different way than when taking flight), to generate heat. The colder it gets, the tighter the cluster and harder the bees have to work to stay warm. If the the core temperature of the hive drops too low, the colony will die. See http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/honeybees-winter/

 

 

A super of honeybees with ten frames

A super of honeybees with ten frames

 

 

During winter months, proper ventilation to maintain a dry hive is a must. Since bees eat and metabolize honey to generate heat, carbon dioxide and water are produced. The carbon dioxide, heavier than air, descends and exits the bottom of the hive while the water vapor rises to the cold inner roof and drips back down as condensate on the poor bees. Freezing and starvation can cause bee die-offs in the winter.

 

 

Golden honey draining from a frameinto a glass dish

Bees eat and metabolize honey from stores within the hive during winter when outside food sources are scarce

 

 

We drape each hive with a blanket over the top and around the back and sides, but not in front where the openings are located. Bees need to be able to enter and exit. As soon as the temperatures warm, my neighbor and I pull back the blankets  during the day.

 

 

Some might suggest that putting out an extra blanket for the bees is interfering with nature’s processes and survival of the fittest, but on the other hand, the colony has remained strong and healthy over this last year.

 

 

Human use of pesticides has wreaked untold harm on the population of these important pollinators.¬† Isn’t it about time, we considered the plight of the bees and did something to help them survive, like planting excellent food sources for every season and giving them medicine when they need it an an extra blanket for warmth? See, http://www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com/help-honey-bees-survive-winter/

 

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