Honey Bees Fly on a Warm January Day / by Michelle Newman Brady

A warm winter day is the perfect time to complete a quick inspection of beehives.  After weeks of no signs of life from the hive one begins to wonder if everything is okay in there.  Are they still alive?  Did they run out of honey? On Jan 14, 2016 the temperature was 63 degrees F, the sun was out, and the bees from all three hives were flying.  What a relief!  Honey bees cluster when the outside air temperature drops below 55 degrees F, they form a tight ball around the queen and shiver to stay warm.  Given enough food, a large enough cluster, and a dry environment honey bees can survive in temperatures as low as -40 degrees F, or so we remember hearing.  However, cleansing flights are necessary for the bees to maintain their health.  Honey bees are fastidious insects and won’t defecate in the hive, so they take advantage of warmer weather do to, um, cleanse.  Happily, Miranda left at least two full honey supers on each hive in the fall so each hive has enough food to make it until the first trees bloom spring, at least we hope so!  We will check them again on another warm day and if they are running low of honey we will supplemental feed with pure cane sugar.  So far so good!