Food for bees in winter

Food for bees in winter

Most insects carry the winter in a frozen state and do not consume feed. The bees consume honey throughout the winter, due to which heat is released and they live in a relatively active state.

With the onset of cold weather, bees gather in a dense club, well adapted to the economical use of heat. The bees inside the club are more active, sit loose, can move on the honeycomb. The bees on the periphery of the club form a “crust” of the club, they sit in a dense layer, huddled together, part of the bees are placed in empty cells of honeycombs; purpose; “peel” – to keep warm, to reduce its loss through the surface of the club. This structure of the club with a quiet wintering requires a minimum consumption of feed for heating.

The club of bees always gathers in a certain place of the nest, gradually concentrating since the autumn. The upper edge of the club’s bee comes in contact with the honey reserves in honeycombs, which ensures normal feeding of the bees in cold conditions. As the consumption of honey, the club moves in a vertical direction.

The bees of the club eat honey, taking it from the cells without any preliminary preparation (liquefaction). The difference in water content in sealed honey and in open cells inside the club is insignificant, as in the concentration of honey in the cells and honey beetles of most bees. Inside the club, bees do not dilute honey before consuming it, as some beekeepers previously believed.

The bees that make up the outer layer of the crust are fed after the bees are moved to the warmer layers of the club. Some researchers directly observed the bees, “diving” in the depth of the club from its surface. The bees of the outer layer of the club, being in conditions of low temperature, are characterized by a low level of metabolism, so in a quiet club they move relatively infrequently.


bee family of medium strength spends 20-25 g of honey per day in the first half of the winter. It allocates 3.5-4.4 kcal of heat per hour during this period. Since the end of February, when the brood appears in families, the consumption of honey is about doubling. The total expenditure of honey by bee families over the winter depends on the duration of wintering and the conditions in which the bees winter. In the north, bees consume it at 8-10 kg, in the south – 6-8 kg per family. In winterers (in the north), bee families consume a little less food than they do in the wild. After the first purge round, the honey consumption of honey bees sharply increases due to the need to maintain a high temperature in the nest for brood rearing. The consumption of honey in winter also depends on the strength of the family. With increasing strength, honey consumption as a whole increases for the family, and for 1 kg of bees – decreases.

Honey bees are being harvested, which will be required not only for wintering, but also for life in the autumn and spring until the appearance of a significant honey crop. For all this time the family needs 25-30 kg of honey in the central and northern regions, and in the southern regions it is 5-8 kg less.

Throughout the winter, honey bees feed on bees without excreting feces. He concentrates in the back of his bowel, which by spring increases greatly in volume. Fecal masses enter the hindgut in the diluted state, but here they condense. Water and substances dissolved in it are absorbed by the rectal glands.

Under normal conditions, during wintering in the room, the mass of the hind gut of bees with feces in December is approximately 18 mg, in January – 20, in February – 24, in March – 32, in April, before the spring flight – no more than 34-36 mg. This month the bees fly over and are released from the feces. The bee can hold up to 40 mg of feces (almost half the body weight). With a further increase in the amount of feces, if the bees can not fly around, they begin to worry, break away from the club and defecate on the walls of the hive, honeycomb, boards near the tap. Bees have diarrhea, many die, the family is weakened and may even die.

In the southern regions of the country, where bees winter in the wild and can fly in a thaw, the quality of honey is not so important for the successful wintering of bees; they during the winter can repeatedly fly around and be freed from feces.

When honey is fed by a good honey, diarrhea can occur only if they are forced to eat it too much (if they are worried about mice, due to uterine death, during wintering in very high temperature, in excessively dry or damp rooms) . Under normal conditions, the stool content rises to no more than 36 mg by spring and there is no diarrhea in the bees. The most dangerous for the wintering of bees is the admixture of honeydew in their feed.

In the back of the stomach is always contained catalase enzyme, associated with the filling of the intestine with feces. It has been established that the catalase activity in winter depends on the bee breed: in Central Russian bees it is equal to 24.7-29.3 units, and for gray mountain Caucasian bees – 18.0-20.9 units. Consequently, bees, adapted to a longer wintering, also have a higher catalase activity. Attempts to find a difference in the content of catalase in well and poorly wintering bee families of the same breed did not yield positive results.

In winter conditions, bees can only eat liquid honey: they die if the cells are completely crystallized honey. Therefore, for the winter, it is impossible to leave honey in the hives, which has a higher propensity to crystallize. Such honey include honey from mustard, rapeseed and other cruciferous plants.

Until recently, it was believed that bees need only honey (sugar) in winter. However, it is now clear that bees, deprived of Perga stocks, hibernate worse, and weaken in the spring. Perga is required for bees in the early spring to restore protein, fat and other substances that are not or very little in honey, but which they need for normal life; Since the end of February, bees consume perga for growing larvae, so care must be taken that the perg was in the nests of all families.

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Food for bees in winter