Winter Bees

Honey bee colonies change dramatically throughout each season. In the winter, the colony is dependent on the honey they stored during the summer and fall. Winter bees are the workers who emerge in the fall, at the end of the foraging season. Honey bee workers who emerge in the spring and summer typically live about six weeks, while winter bees live for more than six months! When winter weather arrives, honey bee colonies form a cluster to stay warm. Honey gives them the energy they need to vibrate their flight muscles to create heat. Even when it is well below freezing outside, the honey bee colony can maintain temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit inside their cluster. Honey bees are one of very few insect species that remains active in the winter and are able to control their environment so precisely.

The images in this gallery are of a honey bee colony maintained by Kate Anton, Research Technologist and Beekeeper - Grozinger Lab. Photography by Brennan Dincher.