December – The winter cluster takes shape!

Logo Un Toit Pour Les Abeilles

Every month we receive some news from the hive that we sponsor for the association “Un toit pour les abeilles” (A Shelter for Bees).

Discover the December’s news!

 

What’s happening in the beehive?

Winter has well and truly arrived, with temperatures plummeting. Rain has returned to many regions, while other parts of France have seen the first snowfalls.

A dead calm has descended on the hives…
The outside temperature is hovering between 9°C and 10°C. Bees do not fly when it that cold. They remain in the hive, “clustered” together to stay warm through the winter.
Here is a weather map showing the forecast for mid-December.

 

Focus on … the winter cluster

Did you know that in order to keep warm during the winter, bees huddle together in the hive to form a “cluster” (similar to a cluster of grapes)? The movements of the bees within this ball generate heat, keeping the cluster warm.

In the middle, where the temperature is at its highest, are the queen and her brood. This is the “core” of the cluster where the temperature is around 30°C.
The core is protected by layers of bees whose job is to regulate the temperature. They form the “outer layer”. It is on the outer layer that the bees are the most tightly packed and the temperature hovers around 10°C.

 

As for the beekeeper…

Beekeepers make the most of this period to send out pots of honey to the various sponsors. It is also an opportunity for them to sell their honey at Christmas markets, for example. Any work directly on the hives is kept to a strict minimum to avoid disturbing the colonies. In milder conditions (temperature above 15°C), the beekeeper may open the hive to tighten the frames by adding a partition.

 

Did you know?

During the winter, it is the bees inside the cluster that provide the heat. They do this by vibrating their thorax muscles, without actually moving their wings, thereby circulating heat within the core of the cluster. Below 10°C, bees enter a “comatose” state, drop off the cluster and die.