Five Feline Farm

Living and Promoting a Sustainable Life

Do Honeybees Hibernate?

One of the most frequently asked questions about Five Feline Farm is about the honeybees. This year has been a start over year. We presently have two thriving hives and are determined to keep these colonies alive if at all possible. Our goal is to avoid the tragedy we experienced last year in losing colonies and increase the number of colonies in the spring.

We did harvest a very small amount of honey this year from one colony. Although the bees did produce a fair amount of honey, we made the decision to prioritze the health of the bees and leave this additional honey for their winter food supply. This will increase their likelihood of making it through the forecasted harsh winter and is more important than any profit potential we might realize by removing more honey.

What do honeybees do in the winter?

This is a common question. People often assume that honeybees hibernate in the winter. The reality is that honeybees do not hibernate, they cluster.

When temperatures drop, the colony huddles together in a ball with the queen and her attendants in the middle. The bees on the outer edge form an insulating layer. The inner layers of bees vibrate their abdominal muscles to generate heat for warmth. Periodically, one of the inner bees will move to the outer layer and push her cold sister into the middle of the ball to allow her time to warm up.

The bees also pass food from one to the other and to the queen. The entire cluster moves throughout the hive over the winter to where the honey reserves are stored. It is important for the beekeeper to leave enough honey for the bees. Yes, we can and do supplement with dry granulated sugar as needed to ensure they have plenty to eat before the spring nectar flow begins.

If all goes as planned, our colonies will overwinter.

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