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A hive of work to weather winter

Updated: May 21


a colourful beehive

As winter approaches and the days get colder and the nights even colder, spare a thought for our summer-loving honey bees.


They have to keep the inside of a hive at a constant 37 degrees C – a tough assignment when the hive wall is just a 10mm thick piece of wood and it’s only a few degrees outside, or even freezing.

 

Because of this, caring beekeepers have been spending recent weeks preparing their hives for the cold months ahead. This means making sure the bees have been left with enough honey to see them through winter, and concentrating the colony into just one or two boxes to reduce the space that they have to keep warm.



 Video: Checking the hive in preparation for winter.


The bees do this by vibrating their wings and clustering in the centre of the hive as the stored honey is gradually consumed and those food-store frames emptied. It’s exhausting 24-hours-a-day work. Thousands of bees succumb, sacrificing themselves for the health and safety of their queen who must be able to greet the spring (signalled in Australia by the appearance of the first golden wattle) strong enough to rebuild the colony ahead of summer.

 

It's a cycle of life that has been ongoing for tens of millions of years; only a tiny fraction of which has been in partnership with us. Long may it continue.

  


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