Early Activity 2015
This past weekend we saw some very warm temperatures (into the mid-60’s, ~18 celsius) and both hives were very active! Rob managed to capture some videos of some very interesting behavior at the hive entrance. If you look closely in both videos, you’ll notice a bee exiting one of the holes of the mouse guard (the white strip of metal), dragging a dead bee out. She’s on “undertaker” duty, performing the necessary task of removing the bodies of any bees that have died inside the hive during colder weather. You will see this more often during the winter months, because usually in the summer most bee’s likely die “on the wing” during foraging.
While the “winter cohort” of bees live slightly longer than their counterparts hatched during spring/summer, there will still be natural decline in population over the winter. It’s nothing to worry about; in fact, that they are removing the dead ones is a sign of a healthy hive this time of year.
According to our local beekeepers, believe it or not, January is typically when the Queen begins to start laying eggs again! Slowly at first, but picking up rapidly through Feb/March. Something we will have to be aware of is to ensure there’s a good balance between still having enough stored honey, but also having some emptied cells in the comb so the Queen has room to lay new eggs. If there is not enough room to lay, we run the risk that the hive will swarm–March being when “swarm season” typically begins. Furthermore, early brood rearing is important for boosting the dwindling population of old “winter bees”. The goal is to have a strong population of young bees by April-May to take advantage of the tulip poplar nectar flow here in central NC.
We’ll be monitoring activity closely, and perhaps the next stretch of warm days (above 60F) we may want to take a quick peek inside the hive to confirm our observations!
Until next time, bee good!
That is so interesting. I hope the body that was dragged out of the hive was the little bas…d that stung me last fall!
Why do I have the feeling that if I was a bee, this would be my job???