What Happens to Honeybees in the Winter?

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Whether you’re a beginning beekeeper or just a curious person, you may want more information regarding honeybees and their behaviors. Although you can see them foraging for nectar and pollen in the spring and summer, you probably don’t see many bees from late fall into winter. With that said, knowing what happens to honeybees in the winter is important for maintaining your colonies through the cold months.

Do They Die?

Unfortunately, many bees do die in the winter as it’s the most likely time for colony losses. Despite spending the entire year prepping to survive the winter, beekeepers may lose a portion or all of their colonies due to small populations, insufficient food sources, pests, or disease.

Losing part or all of your colony isn’t always easy to come back from, but it’s not impossible. Focus on keeping your colony healthy throughout the year to ensure survival during the winter months.

Where Do They Go?

Believe it or not, bees stay inside their hives for the entire winter. They gather themselves closely around the hive and vibrate their bodies to generate heat. The queen bee stays at the center of the hive to stay warm since she’s the most important member to keep alive throughout the cold months. Bees are able to keep their homes around 90–100 degrees, even when the temperature outside is below freezing.

How Do They Survive?

You’re probably thinking you couldn’t survive in the cold, so how can bees? They survive by sticking together to stay warm and by eating the honey stores they stocked up on during the warm, productive months. Bees may not survive the winter if their keepers remove honey from the hives without leaving them enough to eat throughout the cold months. With that said, beekeepers should only harvest honey if their colonies have enough for the upcoming winter.

Do They Hibernate?

Bees do not hibernate in the winter to conserve energy. Instead, they work together to make their hives like small furnaces. Although you don’t see much activity at the hive entrance, the bees are still active inside. On a warmer day, you may see a few come out to do their business since bees prefer not to eliminate waste inside their hives.

You may or may not already understand the importance of bees in agriculture, but knowing what happens to honeybees in the winter is a step in the right direction. Bees are necessary to make our world run smoothly, which isn’t possible if we lose them all during the winter.