Winter Hive Care
Winter hive care is an important thing to consider when keeping your stingless bees in a cold climate. Because as bee keepers we choose to keep them in hives outside of what they would naturally live in, some consideration is required.
Here is a video I made with some things that I do at home.
Winter hive care notes.
Stingless bees retreat into the brood as the temperature of the hive cools. Once inside bees tense and release their flight muscles to make heat. This heat ensures the baby larva in the brood does not die from the cold. The nectar stores are the main resource that gets used here for the bees when performing this action. When those stores run out the hive will perish.
Taking care of your hive can be as simple as placing it inside during the times which are really cold.
A full hive resists the cold a lot more. This is because the stores of honey and pollen act like an extra layer of protection around the hive.
Thin walled hives and hives made from materials that do not insulate will be in an even worse situation over winter so take extra care of these.
The most important thing for winter hive care is having your hive in the sun for at least some of the day. Morning sun is preferable.
Providing food for your bees to collect within the hive is a great way to help the bees along. Most stingless bees will consume water mixed with store bought honey. However, I would not advise feeding them this if they don’t need it – there are lots of things we do not know about what happens inside a bee’s stomach on a micro scale.
If you would like to learn more about what happens in a hive during the cold have a look at these previous articles written by Dean.
Alternative winter heating
Using a flower pot heater is a great way of keeping your hives warm if you do not want a large electricity bill. Have a look at this video on how to make one for your hives. I used two pots, a bolt and nut, picture hanging hooks and a garden pot holder to make mine.
Some people in Australia have used element wire for heating their hives with great success. If you would like to try this be sure to have the heat regulated with a thermostat.
Tetragonula like temperatures between 18-28 degrees to feel comfortable when heating them.
Austropleabeia like temperatures between 20-34 degrees when heating them.
Be warned on the higher heat scale that your bees will continue to grow and work within the colony. If you don’t provide them with enough food you will essentially be making them use more stores. Keep the heat at the lower end of the scale to preserve their stores and keep them happy.
If you have a favorite method of heating your bees why not post a comment below to help other bee keepers with their own hives.