Spring is nearly here! Although we just had a pretty good snowstorm here in Flagstaff which dropped 16 inches of new powder, the days just afterward have been nice and sunny. Already we’ve heard birds starting to be more active and visit our backyard feeders. Getting really excited for the warm season around here!
After the long sleep of winter, it’s great to get out and about and explore the world around. That’s the same thing our Flagstaff honey bees will be doing soon! So, what do bees do during the winter? Unlike most of the Arizona honey bees further south that can stay active year-round, ours tend to “hibernate” and hang out in their hive through the cold of winter. During that time they will continue to stay alive by feeding on their stored honey.
To keep warm they ball together as a group and collectively vibrate their tiny little bee bodies to produce warmth, slowing moving in and out in a spiral-like fashion around the queen to keep her warm. Penguins often do a similar thing in the Antarctic, rotating in and out of the central warmth. Pretty clever, eh?
People often ask if our bees do well through the winter. And the answer is a resounding YES! As long as beekeepers aren’t selfish by taking all the honey stores, but leave the bees their fair share of honey to live on, they’ll be just fine. Maybe the colder winter temps up here are what have helped keep much of the Africanized bees from moving in. We certainly see far fewer than fellow beekeepers do in the south side of the state. Sounds like a good research project…