The Honey Bee Huddle

As the weather turns cooler and it really starts to feel like fall, we’re experiencing quite the color explosion on the farm. It’s also the last explosions of nectar and pollen for the Currant Farm honey bees until the first frost, which will be any day now.

As we said in our email about Autumn Asters last week, bees must gather a surplus of nectar and pollen to store for the winter. They’ll take it back to their hive and use it for a number of things. It’ll feed the adult bees, of course. But it’s also deposited into honeycomb cells.

The bees fan the honey filled cells with their wings until the excess moisture of the nectar is evaporated which converts it into honey, which is their winter food source. Honeybees survive the winter by working hard to create this honey surplus before it gets cold outside.

During the cold months, they work

as a team to huddle around the queen and immature bees to keep them warm. As the temperatures drop, they start to vibrate their flight muscles without moving their wings, which raises their body temperature enough to keep everyone warm. On the coldest days, the temperature in the center of the mass of bees can remain at 70°-80° F.

That’s why honey bees don’t have to hibernate! They produce enough honey to  hopefully keep them alive all winter. Right now, our Currant Farm bees are working hard to prepare for the cold winter months that are just around the corner. And they’ve produced enough honey for us to share with you! (An average colony of honey bees can make two to three times more honey than they typically need to survive the winter.)