Saturday, January 16, 2010
The January Thaw
Many of the hives appeared as the one in the photo. I found a large number of bees in the upper box of the hive. Here the cluster is seen spread across a large number of frames. The cluster expands with warm temperatures, like today, and contracts with cold temperatures. The cluster of bees had moved upward through the hive as the winter progressed, eating its way through the honey stored in the comb. With the cluster at the top of the hive, the bees are vulnerable to starvation. They have eaten all of the honey surrounding the cluster, and there are not any available flowering plants in bloom. When the temperatures fall, the bees will retract their cluster into a tight ball. With the cluster in this constricted configuration, the bees often starve even while there may be honey stored only inches away. It will be necessary to feed the bees to sustain them through the months of February and March.