Bees Collecting Pollen in December
Bees can find and collect pollen even when we do not see where it is coming from. What does pollen collecting mean for a hive in the winter months? I am not sure, maybe collecting pollen is normal for December, or maybe the above average temps have caused my bees to keep going like it is springtime.
The month of December has brought strange weather patterns to NE Ga. We have had everything from heavy, vegetation killing frost all the way to 80 degree days, and bright sunny skies all the way to heavy flooding rains. The weather patterns are closer to spring than winter.
When I closed the hives back in October I assumed I would be leaving them alone until early spring. However, the weather has been tricky and the bees have been very active. The last two days provided sunshine so I visited the hives. The hives were super busy; bee traffic was going like it was an airport. (The sounds of summer!)
I discovered, once again, the bees are smarter than I am. While nectar and pollen sources are non-existent to my eyes, the bees have their sources and they are certainly bringing in pollen. I saw bees bringing in white, yellow and even red pollen.
I am not sure what it means for the hive. The weather extremes and this pollen collecting are causing me a lot of concerns.
- I am concerned the bees will naturally deplete their honey stores before cold weather does set in and will starve to death before spring.
- I am concerned the pollen means the queen may start laying and there will be insufficient stores to get them through the winter.
- I am concerned the pollen means queen may start laying and the weather will turn cold leaving the bees spread out due to brood rearing and the bees will not be clustered causing chilling (death) and weakening my hives or completely killing the hives.
- I am concerned the worker bees will not survive until spring leaving my hives weakened and unable to protect the queen in the cluster.
- I am concerned the unusually warm weather may cause plants to start blooming then it may turn cold again and kill those plants.
- I am concerned if the normal cycle of the plant is thrown off they may not bloom properly come spring.
- I am concerned the bees may bring in too much pollen, filling in space the queen may need for spring egg laying.
When I harvested honey this year, I made sure I left at least one super full of honey for each hive. This is typically enough stores for my hives, however now I am not sure. I will be keeping an eye on the hives and if we have another week or two straight of above average temps I may open the hives to check on things. I may end up having to provide them with something to eat!
- Honey from my apiary
- Dry granulated sugar
- Sugar water
It is typically assumed winter months give the beekeeper a vacation from checking on the hives. I believe we should still be visiting out hives as much as possible (as weather permits), especially during strange weather patterns.