At the end of the summer, bees begin to prepare for the cold winter days.


Egg laying

There is no egg laying during the winter. In the fall, the queen slowly begins to reduce egg laying until she completely stops. She starts laying again at the end of the winter.


Fall brood
You can see very little brood (marked with orange) on this frame, the rest is capped and uncapped honey they are preparing for the winter. Until the winter starts, brood will completely disappear and the honey will be capped 🍂🍁


Winter bees

Bees live 30-45 days in summer. But the bees that hatch in the fall live for several months - until spring. These are the so-called winter bees.

They take care of the first brood when the queen starts laying again. For colonies to grow rapidly in the spring, they need to enter the winter with as many bees as possible. More bees can heat and feed more larvae.



Winter cluster

As soon as the cold weather begins, winter bees form a winter cluster around the queen. The bees in the cluster are tightly packed into the ball to maintain the temperature.


A winter cluster forms when the temperature drops below 13°C (55°F)


Cleansing flight

During the winter, when it's a nice day, bees will take a cleansing flights to eliminate their body wastes. They don't do that inside the hive. Other than that, they don't fly out of the hive until spring.


Drone eviction

At the end of summer, bees eject drones from the hive. Drones cannot raise the brood, nor do they collect food. So in the early spring they are of no use to the colony. Moreover, they consume food that is very valuable for the survival of the colony in winter months.


Drone eviction
This worker bee (left) chases the drone (right) out of the hive in order to save the honey for the winter


So drone eviction is a measure that facilitates colony survival during the cold winter months.

The time of drone eviction depends on the location. But it can also vary from year to year in the same location.



The time of drone eviction depends on:



3honey flow


If the bees can not find nectar, they will eject drones earlier in order to save food for the winter. And if there is a good honey flow, they will tolerate drones longer.


At the time of drone eviction, you can see the bees at the hive entrance pulling and forcing drones outside the hive. They also eject drones larvae, so ejected larvae can be seen at the entrance and in front of the hive.


You will know that drones are thrown out of the hive if you can no longer see them in the hive.


Honey and pollen

During cold days, bees consume very little honey. But as temperature rise, they consume more. Most honey is consumed in late winter when the queen starts laying eggs. For brood development, bees also need pollen. But since nothing is blooming yet, bees need to have supplies of pollen in addition to their honey supplies.

During the summer bees prepare honey and pollen for the winter. But if they don't have enough, you have to feed them.


It is very important that bees have enough food to survive the winter.


Honey and pollen for winter
That shiny thing inside the cells is uncapped honey, and yellow is pollen


Cold is generally not a problem, but the lack of food is. Colonies that do not have enough food cannot survive the winter.



Food consumption


In the first winter months, bees consume very little food - less than 1kg of honey, and they don't consume pollen at all.


The consumption of honey depends on the strength of the colony. Bees in a large winter cluster need less energy to generate heat than in a small one. Sudden changes in temperature increase honey consumption.


Food consumption increases significantly in late winter when the queen begins to lay eggs. In addition to larger amounts of honey, in late winter, they also consume pollen because they have to feed their brood as well.



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