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jenkinsbrynmair 

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although they may brood later into the autumn if it's warm and food is available, the first winter bees will still be being raised in August.
Can you direct us to the accredited source of this statement please
 

pargyle 

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The bees will still work to the internal clock for their species. So although they may brood later into the autumn if it's warm and food is available, the first winter bees will still be being raised in August.
They go by what's been evolutionarily programmed.
No they don't .... Bees are opportunists .... if the weather is fine and warm they will continue to do what they do in fine warm weather - forage. They start to raise winter bees when the temperature drops and these do not become foragers ... the foragers right to the end are the last of the summer bees.
 

Little_bees 

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No they don't .... Bees are opportunists .... if the weather is fine and warm they will continue to do what they do in fine warm weather - forage. They start to raise winter bees when the temperature drops and these do not become foragers ... the foragers right to the end are the last of the summer bees.
Well that's not all exactly correct.

In August bees begin to raise winter bees concurrently with summer bees. They are fed differently and so have different destinies. The summer bees progress to foraging at the usual timetable whilst the winter-destined bees age much more slowly.

The numbers of winter bees are proportionately low to begin with but, as increasing numbers are reared, they transition to becoming the majority of the brood.

There are still summer bees available to forage as long as good weather permits their rearing. This is where they are opportunists capitalising on the last forage. But it is their in-built evolutionary drive that prompts the onset of winter bee production.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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again, where is the proof of all this?
What point raising winter bees in August when they will have flogged themselves to death on the heather, then ivy?
Do the 'winter bees' just sit around the hive saving themselves for the spring buildup?
 

pargyle 

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again, where is the proof of all this?
What point raising winter bees in August when they will have flogged themselves to death on the heather, then ivy?
Do the 'winter bees' just sit around the hive saving themselves for the spring buildup?
They are Essex bees - of course they do ....
 

Beebe 

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Somehow it's escalated to seven.
Well that's not all exactly correct.

In August bees begin to raise winter bees concurrently with summer bees. They are fed differently and so have different destinies. The summer bees progress to foraging at the usual timetable whilst the winter-destined bees age much more slowly.

The numbers of winter bees are proportionately low to begin with but, as increasing numbers are reared, they transition to becoming the majority of the brood.

There are still summer bees available to forage as long as good weather permits their rearing. This is where they are opportunists capitalising on the last forage. But it is their in-built evolutionary drive that prompts the onset of winter bee production.
According to a complicated graphical presentation, courtesy of The Apiarist, from around the beginning of October the majority of the population of bees that are at that point, between zero and forty-eight days old will still be alive in December, as will most bees which emerge after the beginning of October. Throughout that period there is also a small but hardly changing number of bees which are over sixty days old, eventually progressing to around ninety days old. That data implies that all bees produced in approximately the last four months of the year are to some extent "programmed" to become "winter bees".
I read that it is the reduction in supply of fresh, incoming pollen that is the main trigger to the production of diutinus bees. Can that switch be turned on and off? In recent weeks I've seen large quantities of pollen coming in to my colonies; would that temporarily stimulate them to produce foragers again once they have started making winter-bees?
 

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The bees will still work to the internal clock for their species. So although they may brood later into the autumn if it's warm and food is available, the first winter bees will still be being raised in August.

The bees can't foretell a mild autumn because they've never experienced an autumn before. They go by what's been evolutionarily programmed.
My understanding is that winter bee production is stimulated by a diminishing pollen income as the foraging season comes to an end and that internal changes in bee physiology are triggered (Beecraft Nov 2021). It goes on to say that this will vary across the country and according to climate and weather….
 

pargyle 

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My understanding is that winter bee production is stimulated by a diminishing pollen income as the foraging season comes to an end and that internal changes in bee physiology are triggered (Beecraft Nov 2021). It goes on to say that this will vary across the country and according to climate and weather….
Which rather supports what I've been saying - that bees are opportunists and their behaviour is reactive ... genetically programmed, though they may be, to produce bees that will be there to survive winter this will only occur when the conditions are right ... I think that weather, ambient temperature and available forage (particularly pollen) will dictate, to a great extent, what happens and when it happens in the colony.

It's one of the exciting challenges of beekeeping - as I said, in another thread, you cannot keep bees by the calendar. As a beekeeper you have to be aware of what is happening and whatever you do really does have to be in harmony with the bees timetable - all the year round - and unfortunately it's a moving the bees calendar is a moving feast. Think about what is going on .... getting your actions right ? Well, that's altogether something else and I do not profess to getting it right all of the time ... if I manage some of the time I feel I've achieved something .... but I'm not a proper beekeeper.
 

Little_bees 

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again, where is the proof of all this?
What point raising winter bees in August when they will have flogged themselves to death on the heather, then ivy?
Do the 'winter bees' just sit around the hive saving themselves for the spring buildup?
Ask the bees what the point is and why they do it every year.

Regardless, it's been demonstrated that a small portion of the bees living in the hive in August are still alive at the end of December, these being obviously 'winter' bees. In this particular investigation, every bee in the hive was marked a certain colour, with colours being changed at a 12 day interval. The results clearly show a number of bees (marked blue in this case) who were in the hive in August (when all unmarked bees were marked blue) and who were still alive and kicking at the end of December.

As I said previously, these bees don't form the bulk of the winter bees but demonstrate the onset of winter-bee rearing.

These diutinus bees don't need to sit around doing nothing till Christmas, even in Essex. Nor do they need to flog themselves to death. They are physiologically built to develop more slowly, so spending most of that period as house bees.

The full explanation is on the page I've linked above with further research described in the references. If you check reference 10 , the authors conclude that "During the development of the winter bee population, there is a period during which emerging bees can become short- or long-lived individuals in all colonies. At present, we know little about how this is determined. Differences in larval care may affect whether a bee is long- or short-lived; newly emerged bees that overwinter have significantly greater dry weight, protein, fat, triglycerides, glycogen and glucose content than bees that do not survive to winter."

In other words, they don't yet know why but they do know it categorically happens.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Nice little article on winter bees here
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Too many - but not nearly enough
so basically, the bees produced in August are dead by November - so not winter bees at all.
 

mdotb 

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Ask the bees what the point is and why they do it every year.

Regardless, it's been demonstrated that a small portion of the bees living in the hive in August are still alive at the end of December, these being obviously 'winter' bees. In this particular investigation, every bee in the hive was marked a certain colour, with colours being changed at a 12 day interval. The results clearly show a number of bees (marked blue in this case) who were in the hive in August (when all unmarked bees were marked blue) and who were still alive and kicking at the end of December.

As I said previously, these bees don't form the bulk of the winter bees but demonstrate the onset of winter-bee rearing.

These diutinus bees don't need to sit around doing nothing till Christmas, even in Essex. Nor do they need to flog themselves to death. They are physiologically built to develop more slowly, so spending most of that period as house bees.

The full explanation is on the page I've linked above with further research described in the references. If you check reference 10 , the authors conclude that "During the development of the winter bee population, there is a period during which emerging bees can become short- or long-lived individuals in all colonies. At present, we know little about how this is determined. Differences in larval care may affect whether a bee is long- or short-lived; newly emerged bees that overwinter have significantly greater dry weight, protein, fat, triglycerides, glycogen and glucose content than bees that do not survive to winter."

In other words, they don't yet know why but they do know it categorically happens.
It was shown in a study 45 years ago in Canada. The author of the blog article you cite clearly states that the dates and speed of transition will differ depending on climate, forage and other factors, while arguing that the pattern will be similar. In fact the original Harris study (quoted in the Dutch 2001 write up you cite) states that bees were too clustered from 30th October until March for them to be counted, so the mortality rates were assumed to be constant over that period, which makes data points in December rather suspect (as they were interpolated).

My personal experience with bees which never seem to entirely stop brood rearing throughout our "winter", makes me very doubtful that the bees which had emerged in my hives in August are still with us now, let alone in December or over the winter (those which survive to the spring "crossover"). I saw some of my colonies out foraging in force today, and one that I had cause to open earlier this month still had over 2 (14x12) frames nearly full of brood, which I conservatively estimate to be at least 9,000 bees. Perhaps some of them will still be there in March.
 

Little_bees 

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so basically, the bees produced in August are dead by November - so not winter bees at all.
No. The article clearly said that a portion of the marked bees were alive in December. So eggs laid in August still alive in December, 4 months later. Summer bees live 6 weeks.

So clearly winter bees.
 

Little_bees 

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My personal experience with bees which never seem to entirely stop brood rearing throughout our "winter", makes me very doubtful that the bees which had emerged in my hives in August are still with us now, let alone in December or over the winter (those which survive to the spring "crossover"). I saw some of my colonies out foraging in force today, and one that I had cause to open earlier this month still had over 2 (14x12) frames nearly full of brood, which I conservatively estimate to be at least 9,000 bees. Perhaps some of them will still be there in March.
Well, perhaps next year you can dissect your bees at the end of August to determine whether they really are all summer physiology.

If the local climate is suitable, the bees will of course brood later into the autumn. But that doesn't preclude them beginning their winter production soon after the summer peak.

The evidence shows that winter bee rearing starts in August and picks up as autumn progresses and the summer/winter brood transitions.

No one is saying that the August brood makes up the bulk of the winter bees. But they are still a contributory part. The summer bees won't be around to feed your December larvae so the winter bees have to be fit and healthy to do the job, i.e. not compromised by varroa in their own pupal stage.
 

Little_bees 

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I always considered winter bees were the ones that get the colony through to spring.
The winter bees are simply the ones with the winter physiology.

Presumably it is the latest hatched which make it through to nurture the spring brood. But they couldn't do it without the earlier winter bees to nurture them in turn.
 

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