November – Winter is coming!

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 November’s news!


What’s happening in the beehive?

Winter has arrived, without warning… It is November after all, so there’s nothing unusual about the cold slowly beginning to spin its web. But the above-average temperatures of the last few weeks have kind of made us forget the advancing seasons.
The intensity of winter’s arrival has been a shock. We have seen amber weather warnings in a number of regions, such as in the Loire Valley and in the Massif Central, while a red weather warning was even issued in Corsica.

Across the country, the arrival of the colder weather – be it like a lion or a lamb – has clearly heralded the start of wintertime.

Bees have now entered their overwintering period, when they will stay in their hives without venturing out. There is no more pollen to gather anyway. The first low temperatures and frosts have killed off the last blooms of the late autumn.
And as far as the bees are concerned, it’s just as well that the winter is donning its white coat.
Last year, it wasn’t cold enough and the bees were late retiring to the hives for winter, using up their last resources prematurely.

Inside the hive, bees are huddling together to form a winter cluster that will keep them warm this winter.


Focus on … Overwintering

In the wintertime, bees huddle together inside the hive like a cluster of grapes. The bees are said to be “clustering”.
Around the cluster, an “outer layer” is formed. The movements of the bees on the inside of the cluster generate heat, maintaining the core temperature at 30°C.
The temperature of the outer layer is around 10°C.
The bees become endangered if the temperature drops below 7°C. They are literally incapable of doing anything. They separate from the cluster, drop off and die.
So they don’t sleep during the winter; they don’t actually hibernate.
Their only job is, quite simply, to keep the cluster warm.


As for the beekeeper…

Throughout this period, beekeepers have very little to do with their hives. Opening the hives when it is cold is not recommended.
Bees dislike both cold and humidity. Hives therefore need air in order to prevent the build-up of condensation.
But they must be located on a site that is not exposed to the wind.

Beekeepers therefore make the most of this relative lull to pot the honey harvested a few weeks prior, to the delight of sponsors and customers alike. They can also focus on selling their honey to honey houses or in local markets and carrying out maintenance work on their equipment for the following season.
It’s also an opportunity to clear vegetation growth from around the hives and prepare new sites for the following year.


Did you know?

The climate immediately surrounding the hive is vitally important, particularly during cold weather. Any work directly on the hive must only be carried out during sunny weather, when the temperature is above 15°C, and when there is no wind.