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Re: [Natural-Beekeeping] Bees in Winter

From: christin
Sent on: Saturday, October 27, 2012 12:55 PM
Thanks for all the great info!!

Christin Brezil (Lussier)
Grain-Free Granola Head, 
wife to my best friend Thomas and momma to 3 boys 
{ Dylan Bryce 11 }
{ Evan Lane 6 }
{ Lucian Kai 3 }
 "Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication."
 ~ Leonardo da Vinci

On Oct 27, 2012, at 11:50 AM, Jacqueline Freeman <[address removed]> wrote:


Hello Meetup Bee Folks,
This is Jacqueline Freeman, your Meetup Bee gal.
I don't have any bee classes scheduled for this month for two reasons.

First this is the month we do our biggest farm event of the year, our Heirloom Apple Fest, on Sunday Oct. 28. Do come if you can. You'll get to taste over 200 different kinds of heirloom apples and even a few pears. The Apple Fest is at the same place as our bee classes, the Venersborg One-Room Schoolhouse. More info is here:

The second reason is that we're remodeling our old farmhouse kitchen, getting all our electrics upgraded to code, AND putting a new roof on the garage and rebuilding the patio deck where I have a few hives. Seems like a lot but we figured, why drag all these projects out over a long time? Why not just do it all at once? So we are and that means that everything in the house is in a new and different place. Making lunch is a project all on its own when food, pan and stove are in three different rooms. As soon as we get that a bit further along we'll be back on a regular class schedule again.

In the meantime, for those of you who have bees, I hope they're all snuggled in for the winter. Be sure their front door is small so mice and cold drafts can't get in. I make ours about one or two bees wide, a little less than an inch. The smaller entrance also allows them to protect it more easily. My warre hives are all 2-3 boxes high. Ideally you want one box of brood in the bottom where they'll do their winter cluster. A second full box of honey on top should get them through the winter fine. If there's too much space in there, like with four boxes, it's too hard for them to keep it warm. Most likely you've already harvested your honey box and you do want to check to be sure you're not keeping empty boxes on the hive.

I just got the coolest thing -- a camera that has a narrow hose with the lens at the tip of it. I can slide it inside the hive and see inside without disturbing the bees. I used it recently when we moved our wild tree hive to another location because the alder tree the hive it's in started splitting. We sawed off the upper half of the tree (where the hive is) and moved it into a safe winter location. Still, I worried that perhaps the queen or some bees might be left behind inside the old trunk. I put the camera down between the old comb and was relieved to see that everyone was out and in the new location. Phew!

If you're on Facebook, you might want to friend me (Jacqueline Freeman, Venersborg, WA) . I post bee info including movies and pix there and would like you to see them.

Also please sign up for my bee newsletter on my new bee website.

Here's some information as we head in to winter. The hive is probably right now hatching out some of the last bees of the season, the ones who will carry the hive through winter so we want this batch to be supremely strong.

Thinking of opening your hive and having a look inside? Unless it's really warm out this may not be a wise idea.

Hive bees work really hard to keep the brood temperature constant no matter what the outside weather is. The eggs need to be kept at a very specific temperature and cooling down the hive can have long-lasting effects on adult bee health.

Here are two studies about how allowing the brood to cool down can affect the strength and resilience of the hive.

* Effects of Brood Temperature on Adult Honeybees
by Jürgen Tautz, Sven Maier, Claudia Groh, Wolfgang
Rössler, and Axel Brockmann
University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany

Researchers placed honeybee pupae in incubators that held their temperature at 89.6, at 94.1 and at 96.8. This is a normal temperature variation among hives, though 96.8 is the ideal pupae temperature. On emergence the young adult bees were marked and introduced into foster colonies. There was no obvious difference in in-hive behavior between any of them during the time they were hive bees.

However, once they became foragers, the bees exhibited differences that correlated with the temperatures they were raised in. Bees were trained to visit a feeding station 200 yards from the hive and upon return they performed the waggle dance to tell the other bees where food was. Bees raised at 89.6 completed only 1/5 of the dances compared with the 96.8 group. The waggle dance duration had more variations in completion and duration in the colder-raised bees compared to the normally raised group.

One-trial learning and memory tests showed both of the colder bees performed significantly less well than the normal bees. The opinion of the scientists is that the temperatures that bee pupae are raised in influences their behavioral performance as adults.

2. Brood Temperature and Bee Brain Development
Claudia Groh, Jürgen Tautz, and Wolfgang Rössler

How does brood temperature affect bees' brains? Scientists raised bees at constant temperatures ranging from 84 degrees to 98.6, then viewed their brains for differences in the synaptic complexes, the place in bees' brains that show how complex and capable of learning and memory their nervous systems are.

These numbers were highest in bees raised at the normal brood cell temperature and significantly decreased in bees raised as little as one degree below or above this norm. Their conclusion is that allowing the brood to cool down may result in decreases in bee intelligence, communication and learning.

Jacqueline's comments: The brood eggs in the bee nursery need to be kept at a fairly precise temperature (96.8F) during their gestation. When we open hives and expose the bees to temperature drops, the colder temps may affect bee intelligence and behavior later in life and thus influence the strength of the hive. Better to wait until the warmest of days to open up and peek inside than to risk cooling down the brood. When the hive gets cold, it takes the bees awhile to bring the internal temperature back up to nursery warmth.

In wild hives the comb is often curved to maximize heat retention letting the bees have more control over how they direct and maintain heat.


Please Note: If you hit "REPLY", your message will be sent to everyone on this mailing list ([address removed])
This message was sent by Jacqueline Freeman ([address removed]) from Natural Beekeeping.
To learn more about Jacqueline Freeman, visit his/her member profile

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