Haven’t seen our little buzzing bee friends around for a while?
Neither have we: this absence is normal for the depths of Winter. When the weather is cold, bees do not fly around as they usually do, gathering nectar or pollen. Instead, they stay in their hives and eat stores to survive.
While this sounds cozy, according to the NSW department of Primary Industry, on average 20 percent of unmanaged colonies will die in Winter. Mainly due to starvation if they do not have ample stores of nectar, honey and pollen, or from exposure.
Beekeepers who manage hives therefore take extra precautions in the lead up to Winter. Of course they want to see their bees embracing the flora again come Springtime, and there’s several steps that can be taken to help the hives reach Spring.
This preparation for Winter can come under the term ‘wintering’ or ‘overwintering’.
‘Wintering’ can include assessing how much honey the hive has stored and ensuring the hive is disease- free. It can also include putting aside capped frames of honey to give back to the bees deeper into the season. Before Winter arrives, one can also combine hives if one appears to be weak.
See the NSW department of Primary Industry fact sheet here.
In places where Winter is really hard, many beekeepers will wrap hives to insulate them from the cold, as well as ensuring ventilation.
In Melbourne, where Apiary Made is based, our Winters are generally mild, but it is still crucial to take adequate steps for the health and longevity of the hives and perform some kind of ‘wintering’.
But now, in mid August, we can almost see the emergence of Spring which means we will be seeing our buzzing friends again soon. Stay tuned for a Springtime update!