We had our first 60-degree day in four months yesterday at 2:30, according to Tom Skilling, and the hive was abuzz with activity.
If you've been following along, you know we wondered if the bees had survived winter.
How do bees keep warm enough to survive winter in Chicago? Norbert M. Kauffeld says in his Seasonal Cycle of Activities in Honey Bee Colonies:
As temperatures drop, the bees draw closer together to conserve heat. The outer layer of bees is tightly compressed, insulating the bees within the cluster. As the temperature rises and falls, the cluster expands and contracts. The bees within the cluster have access to the food stores. During warm periods, the cluster shifts its position to cover new areas of comb containing honey. An extremely prolonged cold spell can prohibit cluster movement, and the bees may starve to death only inches away from honey.
We put out a bowl of sugar water to keep the girls fed until spring starts in earnest.