If the weather forecast proves to be accurate, we are in for a stretch of the coldest weather we have experienced so far this winter.  We are being warned that low temperature readings might reach the low 20s and below.  During this abnormally cold weather, we are all going to spend a lot of time indoors in our warm homes.  Our backyard neighbors are not going to be so lucky.  Each of them has its own ways of survive the cold.  Let’s look at the amazing manner in which honeybees survive frigid temperatures.

        Before winter sets in, the males (drones) are forced out of the hive. Consequently, all that remain are females (workers) and a queen. The queen spends the winter near the center of the hive where it is the warmest.  Remarkably, the temperature in this area ranges anywhere from 80-90ºF or more.

       During the winter, honeybees form a large cluster.  This cluster has two parts.  The workers located at the outer portion of the cluster are packed closely together and constantly vibrate their wings. Here the temperate is often in the 40s. The workers’ wing vibrations help create heat. Conversely, the workers in the inner core and loosely packed.  This allows them and the queen to move about and eat nectar.  From time to time, the bees living in the outer layer change places with those confined to the inner portion of the cluster. This allows those on the outside of the cluster to eat too.

       This behavior has served the honeybee well for untold years.  However, in spite of this, an average of 38.3 percent of the managed honeybee hives in Georgia do not make it through the winter.  


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