What'sgoing on in the Hive now-a-days?

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Drone Bee
Nov 14, 2008
Reaction score
Warboys, CAMBS
Hive Type
Number of Hives
nil bees given away all colonies
What’s happening in our hives now?

It’s all gone quiet on the……………………………… beekeeping front.

The drones have all gone or should have been asked in no uncertain terms to leave by the workers, and that you have completed your treatment for Varroa or possibly still in the process of it. If you’re using oxalic acid then you have not yet started.

So what are the bees up to now?
They have been preparing for winter since the time they first took up residence in the hive, by filling all nooks and crannies with propolis. Some will even reduce the entrance with a wall of propolis. Hopefully they will have built up plenty of stores for the winter period on the outer frames of the brood chamber. If not then I hope you have fed before now to top them up.

The winter cluster.
The bees will begin to cluster when the ambient temperature falls to 14o C. So what happens during the colder winter months?
Lets assume the colony have now gone into a winter cluster. What happens during this time?
Individual workers will periodically consume honey to produce heat, and the cluster will break occasionally to allow workers to move through the nest and feed. When conditions are too cold, colonies can die even with substantial amounts of honey reserves because workers are unable to leave the cluster to get to the honey at the nest periphery.
There is little or no brood rearing during the coldest parts of winter, which means the colony temperature, can be allowed to fluctuate more than it would do during brood rearing.
The minimum temperature within the cluster is 13oC which maintains the temperature of the outer shell to 8oC, which is the minimum temperature for workers to cling to the cluster.
It’s a challenge now for the bees to keep the nest warm in winter, and is met by a colony response; it is the sum of the individual workers behaviour which actually regulates the nest temperature. Workers can elevate their body temperatures by contracting their flight muscles in the thorax without moving their wings. I think the outer shell of workers hang together with neighbouring workers almost motionless with no difference in their thoracic and abdominal temperature. Howe ever shell individuals occasionally move into the centre of the cluster where their thoracic temperature jumps up by almost 10oC from 23-27oC to 30 -37oC within minutes. These bees will probably remain in the cluster centre for about 12 hours and will eventually rejoin the shell of workers. Thus the cluster can be seen as a dynamic system in which heat is generated methodically in the loose centre of the cluster and retained by the tight insulating outer shell. With individuals performing both warming and insulating tasks at different times.

So when we consider its all quiet on the beekeeping front, within the hive it’s a very active time and they are working for survival.

I lifted the lid today to see if they needed fondant...not into the main body, just peaked through the gap in the crown board. Wasn't sure, so put some on anyway.

A few fliers came out to see us, then went back in... they have only really settled for winter in the last week. Until then they were flyiing everyday.

They seem heavy and happy - but we shall see, watch this space...
Thanks Bcrazy - nice post.

I'm glad I'm not outside over the next few nights. I have the central heating on full blast and a roaring log fire.

I'm doing my bit for global warming :smilielol5:
Mine very quiet today. Have eaten half of the fondant I made them last week (half of 0.5kg) and completely ignored the stuff I got from Sainsbury's. This stuff did seem very hard when I inspected, so could be they couldn't get at it. Mine being a little bit runnier wasn't a problem.

Who was it worried about sloppy fondant earlier this week?
What’s happening in our hives now?

So when we consider its all quiet on the beekeeping front, within the hive it’s a very active time and they are working for survival.


When I put my ear to them I can hear my the boxes humming very gently :grouphug:

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