Bee Informed: Warming and Swarming
You may be noticing that wild honey bees are more noticeable foraging in your landscapes, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been busy bee activity all winter long. If you are located in the colder regions of the U.S., wild honey bee colonies just hunker down and cuddle. They do not hibernate, and mortality can be high with older bees dying off over time. But if a wild colony has set up home in a sunny spot, protected from wind and flooding (Fig. 1), activity never stops inside the comb. Assuming the queen is healthy, and the colony has plenty of stored honey and pollen accessible to them, they will shiver their way through the winter months. Quite literally, the worker bees cluster around the queen and shiver to maintain an internal colony temperature significantly higher than the outside ambient temperature.
- USDA, ARS, Honey Bee Research - Tucson, AZ