Cold Climate Honey Bee Behaviour?

The honey bee colony in our Hive #1 chewed out and discarded most of its drone papae and then shut down so early and so fast last September (compared to Hive #2 that kept going strong for another few weeks), we thought maybe the queen was dead. Seeing how the same colony is now the first to come back to life this spring, I suspect its bees have mostly Carniolan genes — cold-climate honey bee genes. I’ve read that Carniolans are more sensitive to environmental changes and behave exactly in this manner. The bees in Hive #2, on the other hand, foraged and took up syrup well into October last fall, but are showing hardly any signs of life now, which coincides with what I’ve read about Italian honey bees. They go as long as they can in the fall, but supposedly have a harder time coping with long cold winters and mild wet springs (like we have in Newfoundland). None of this is necessarily correct. But seeing how our first year of beekeeping is often a guessing game for us, I’ve expressed my best guesses to explain the differences in the behaviour of our two honey bee colonies. They definitely do not behave the same.

Here’s a long boring video of the bees in Hive #1 from earlier today. It shows them coming and going through the bottom entrance. The entrance reducer was removed only while I sat and watched them for about 30 minutes. There’s not much to see in the video, no special behaviour, nothing much except for the last few seconds (the 4:22 mark) when a worker bees pulls out one of her comrades who didn’t make it through the winter. That’s it. Jenny and I are extremely pleased that they’re so alive.

3 thoughts on “Cold Climate Honey Bee Behaviour?

  1. Big mistake. I didn’t noticed in the first draft of this post that I didn’t name the type of bees in Hive #2. I referred to the those bees as “them” when I obviously meant to say Italian honey bees. Duh. The mistake has been corrected.

    UPDATE: I also changed the title of the post.

  2. We haven’t yet figured out why one of our hives is so strong (all of last season, and starting the spring), and the other one only moderately strong. Same stock, same location. All I can think of is maybe drifting? We’ll try swapping the positions of our hives this year and see if it makes a difference.

  3. Queens don’t always mate with enough drones to produce genetically diverge offspring. Our bee supplier has a combination of Italians, Russians and Carniolans, which could create differences in behaviour depending on the mixture of genes. Our Hive #1 gets the morning sun about an hour before Hive #2. That might have something to do with it. One hive could have a weaker queen too. Who knows?

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