Selfless Winter Honey Bees

I’m too busy with work and life to post much these days. I hope to post a review of an excellent book on honey bees soon, and I want to update several posts from this past year (I know significantly more now than I did then). I also need to order some pollen for late-winter / early spring feeding. Both of my colonies are still alive, but I’m not sure if they’ll need any feeding to get through the winter, which really hasn’t kicked in for us yet. It’s just now starting to get cold. Anyway, I took a few photos of some frozen bees in the ice and snow today. Check it out:


That’s a dead bee in the snow a short distance from Hive #1. I noticed about half a dozen of them out there today. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. A bee flies out to use the washroom and instantly freezes to death.

But apparently it’s not uncommon for some bees to fly out and die on purpose. They’re usually older forager bees that would die in the spring before they can be of any use, anyway. Something inside their little brains tells them they’re using up valuable winter honey stores that are better saved for younger, healthier bees. So they make the ultimate sacrifice and swan dive into the snow and die.

The bottom boards of both hives are icy like this:

But I assume there’s nothing unusual about that. As along as the bees are clustered, aren’t wet and can get at their honey stores, they should be alright.

PHOTOS NOTE (OCTOBER 2015): The photos in this post may not display properly because they were uploaded through Google’s Picasa online photo album service, a service I no longer use because certain updates create more work for me instead of streamlining the process. I will eventually replace the photos with ones hosted on the Mud Songs server. This note will disappear when (or if) that happens.