The bees are happily clustered in the hive, keeping warm, and having fond memories of how well you took care of them during the season. They will only leave the hive to take cleansing flights on warm, sunny days. Naturally, dying bees will pile up at the door of your hive, or in front of the hive if it warms up enough for other living bees to carry them outside.
Relax and read up on beekeeping. Order your equipment so that you can have it ready. Enjoy celebrating Christmas, stay warm, and keep the snow away from your hives’ entrances! Also a good time to consider expanding your apiary.
*If keeping Carniolan or Russian honey bees, the beekeeper should be aware that the queens will begin to lay eggs shortly after the winter solstice (shortly before Christmas). The worker bees will now form an even tighter cluster for the purpose of generating even more heat – about 94 degrees Farenheit for eggs and newly hatched larva to survive. All of this to say that a greater amount of food will be needed by the bees to generate this increased need for greater warmth. They can consume about 10 lbs. of honey in a week. The beekeeper should expect to begin offering supplemental food in early to mid-January, feeding continuously until the major nectar flow. To do otherwise will serve to insure the death of the entire colony. Remember, as George Imrie used to urge, “Be a ‘bee-keeper,’ not just a ‘bee-haver’…!”