Local expert explains how honey bees survive during winter weather conditions

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SHADY SPRING, WV (WVNS) – Honey bees can be heard buzzing around flowers in warmer months seeking nectar to produce honey. However, owner of Wills Beekeeping & Homebrewing Supplies, Daris Wills, said most of this hard work is so they will not starve in the winter.

“The bees…what they typically do is work all summer long and work up into part of the fall to do nothing but store honey,” Wills added.

Stated simply, in the winter honey bees must stay warm and must have food to survive. To insulate the colony as outside temperatures drop, the honey bee workers form a cluster around the queen to keep them warm.

“They form a large cluster and they’re vibrating,” Wills said. “As they vibrate they build temperatures up close to 50 degrees on the outside and a scorching 90 degrees in the inside that which takes a lot of energy. “

If the colony exhausts its supply of honey, it may freeze to death before spring, which is why beekeepers, like Wills, keep their food supply coming.

“Typically, I use a dry feed like a sugar patty or sugar cake for the bees in the winter,” Wills said.

While it is more of a hustle to survive, some interesting facts to note: honey bees live longer in winter months, up to four to six months instead of the typical four to six weeks.

Wills also said people may catch them taking a bathroom break on days where temperatures are not so frigid.

“The bees are kinda coming out and flying all over you can see brown spots on the snow and they’re using the restroom and they’re called cleansing flights,” Wills said.

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