How much do you know about honey bees? As we approach the autumn equinox, honey bees are already preparing for winter.
While outside temperatures are still warm enough, honey bees will continue to collect nectar and pollen from fall flowers like goldenrod, aster, and beebalm.
Over the next several weeks, temperatures will decline and food will become scarce as the days grow shorter.
The queen bee will begin to slow down her production of eggs as the colony prepares for winter.
Drones (male honey bees) are evicted from the hive. They do not perform hive maintenance duties or collect nectar or pollen, so having less mouths to feed strengthens the colony's chances of lasting through the winter.
Honey bees do not hibernate. However, when temperatures are lower than 50 degrees F, they stay clustered together inside their hive for warmth. The colony acts like a tiny furnace by pumping their flight muscles all winter long, maintaining a temperature of 95 degrees inside the hive.
As winter progresses, the cluster of bees will move up through the hive as a unit, slowly eating through their honey stores.
Once the colonies sense the days are getting longer, the queen will begin laying eggs again to prepare for spring.
Nicki Praiswater is co-founder and co-owner of Lone Star Bee Company alongside her life-partner, Mark Crippen. Together, they both enjoy beekeeping, traveling and eating great foods.