First-time beek, have been watching hives to see when they close shop for the winter. It’s december 12th and of my two hives, one has moderate activity, one is BUSY! It’s been like that all fall season, except for rainy days. Anyone else in the bay area (I’m in San Francisco city) have bees who are partying like it’s late September?
Not sure if this is a question or not, these do not hibernate. They live and thrive throughout the winter on the honey and pollen they have stored throughout the year that’s why we leave about 30 pounds of honey for them to consume. Being in San Francisco, you may not need as much has other parts of the country.
I looked in on mine on Sunday, it was almost 70° but overcast. One hive was active on the front porch the other much smaller hive was still clustered inside the box trying to keep themselves warm I guess. It wasn’t until the sun came out hitting the box until they started flying.
Oh! I must have gotten that wrong then. Kept seeing stuff about wrapping up the hives for winter, putting mouseguards at the entrance, and how the bees would form one big cluster at the center of the hive. I assumed the hive had a period of inactivity.
You and Marty are both right. Bees do not exactly hibernate, but they do stop flying if it gets cold enough. They will also cluster when it gets cold enough - consistently below 50F, if I recall correctly. However, if you have Italian bees, they are notoriously bad about settling down and clustering. They like to brood all through the winter, and eat vast amounts of food doing it. They will also fly on any sunny or slightly warm day. Hard little workers, they are! As most California beekeepers have Italians, I suspect this is what you are seeing.
Thanks Dawn, that makes sense!
Do they start their brood build-up earlier then, these california italians?
Well yes, in that they never really stop! My brood box is about 20-30% capped brood as of yesterday. There is uncapped brood too, and some eggs. Only about 4 frames of partial brood - in the summer it would have been at least 6 frames full of brood.