Winter bees

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Do224 

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When does the queen lay the ‘winter bees’. Are we talking October, to emerge in November?

Also...there’s a lot of talk about brood being present in hives at the moment. When these bees emerge will they be ‘winter bees’ or just ‘regular bees’ with a normal (6 week?) lifespan?
 

JamezF 

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I may be wrong, but I've always believed them all to be "regular bees" and it's conditions such as the amount of brood, amount of forage coming in, daylight hours, ambient temperature and suchlike that determine their likely lifespan, in part at least by changing their rate of development.

James
 

Sanntos 

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Winter bee is a bee which is well fed with protein (pollen) and has not been worn out by harder tasks in the hive, f ex feeding larvae.
 

Erichalfbee 

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When does the queen lay the ‘winter bees’. Are we talking October, to emerge in November?

Also...there’s a lot of talk about brood being present in hives at the moment. When these bees emerge will they be ‘winter bees’ or just ‘regular bees’ with a normal (6 week?) lifespan?

From August to November, tough that will depend on locality
Winter bees are almost identical to the very young nurse bees you find in summer, physiologically


Both bees have low levels of juvenile hormone and active hypopharyngeal glands, high levels of vitellogenin, large fat bodies and high oxidative stress resistance.
Their juvenile hormone levels increase and vitellogenin levels decrease at a much slower rate
 
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elainemary 

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When does the queen lay the ‘winter bees’. Are we talking October, to emerge in November?

Also...there’s a lot of talk about brood being present in hives at the moment. When these bees emerge will they be ‘winter bees’ or just ‘regular bees’ with a normal (6 week?) lifespan?
Winter bees are laid anytime from August to November, depending on the colony and it’s local environment / climate.

Physiologically winter bees are different as they do much less work in the hive. They have larger fat bodies and due to hormonal changes they store a high level of a substance called Vitellogenin which enables them to feed new bees that will become foragers in the spring, without having to go out the hive to collect pollen before it becomes available

Winter bees switch to ‘regular’ bees when the colony conditions change usually in the spring. The queen increases her laying rate, the outside environment is changing and pollen and nectar becomes available. So the colony cycle continues and the bees build up, reproduce by swarming until forage reduces, daylength starts to reduce. The queen lays less and the cycle repeats, with the production of winter bees to see the colony through to the next year

A longer answer but hope it helps your understanding
 
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mbc 

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I'm sure a better description could be found than "winter bees", they're all just bees and their physiological development is a function of their task history rather than the season per se.
It's no surprise that those bees who have to metabolise their resources quickly to feed young age quicker.
 

mbc 

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Having just retired I feel an affinity with the winter bees quite looking forward to developing the fat body ( that’s going very well) and doing little work in the hive but living longer doing it
Sorry, but in your analogy you're actually the knackered old forager who's used all her resources and is expendable, sent out on the unlikely to return scouting for forage missions, gearing up for altruistic suicide.
 

JamezF 

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I'm sure a better description could be found than "winter bees", they're all just bees and their physiological development is a function of their task history
Yes, I think that's broadly in line with my understanding. The queen just lays "eggs". What happens with the workers once they emerge is dependent upon the needs of the colony at the time, which in turn will be dependent on the prevailing weather, day length, availability of forage and so on. If, say, brood numbers are reducing, there's less forage coming in and the day lengths are shortening and temperatures getting colder, the development of the workers (which can continue for weeks after they emerge) may happen differently because the work that needs doing in the hive changes, taking longer or perhaps even proceeding in a different order, from those that emerge when there's lots of brood, days are long and warm and there's plenty of forage. Eventually a point is reached where those changes are sufficient to mean the bees are more suited to survive the winter than their summer counterparts.

James
 

RichardK 

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As per another of your threads - bees do not use a calendar for their operations.The weather is far more important for beekeeping.
Whilst obviously true, another truth is that as beginners we need guidance. For those more experienced bee keepers that means you may need to stick your neck out from time to time to try to provide a helpful / useful response. For an example of such a reply, I refer to that of elainemary above - #5.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Whilst obviously true, another truth is that as beginners we need guidance. For those more experienced bee keepers that means you may need to stick your neck out from time to time to try to provide a helpful / useful response. For an example of such a reply, I refer to that of elainemary above - #5.
That’s true but equally it’s fairly easy to pick through the comments to sift the helpful from the unhelpful. Even the unhelpful have helpful nuance …… often.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Whilst obviously true, another truth is that as beginners we need guidance.

For an example of such a reply, I refer to that of elainemary above - #5.
It’s all here

Prof David Evans used to post here as Fatshark. It’s worth following the blog. There’s some useful stuff there
 

Sanntos 

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That’s true but equally it’s fairly easy to pick through the comments to sift the helpful from the unhelpful. Even the unhelpful have helpful nuance …… often.
Sometimes the beginner wants a certain answer, and waits for it. It's not always the right answer is regarded as helpful.
 

Murox 

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Sometimes the beginner wants a certain answer, and waits for it. It's not always the right answer is regarded as helpful.
Some ask questions they probably know the answers to because they want another person to take the responsibility for the choice they know they should make, or just for another person to acknowledge what they think is right.
 

Beebe 

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Yes, I think that's broadly in line with my understanding. The queen just lays "eggs". What happens with the workers once they emerge is dependent upon the needs of the colony at the time, which in turn will be dependent on the prevailing weather, day length, availability of forage and so on. If, say, brood numbers are reducing, there's less forage coming in and the day lengths are shortening and temperatures getting colder, the development of the workers (which can continue for weeks after they emerge) may happen differently because the work that needs doing in the hive changes, taking longer or perhaps even proceeding in a different order, from those that emerge when there's lots of brood, days are long and warm and there's plenty of forage. Eventually a point is reached where those changes are sufficient to mean the bees are more suited to survive the winter than their summer counterparts.

James
That's an excellent interpretation; basically, it means there probably isn't a point at which all bees produced are fully winterised and neither will there be an exact point at which they are all produced as the regular variety.
 

JamezF 

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That's an excellent interpretation; basically, it means there probably isn't a point at which all bees produced are fully winterised and neither will there be an exact point at which they are all produced as the regular variety.
I think that's quite probably true. I wonder if there might even be some non winter-adapted workers who manage to make it through to the spring purely because the rest of the colony provides them an adequate environment for survival. I'm sure I've read a suggestion somewhere that in milder winters there may be drones that live in the colony for far longer than the standard literature suggests.

James
 

Erichalfbee 

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My colonies seem to let a few drones overwinter.
 

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