Updated: May 10, 2022
There are basic requirements for successful wintering.
These include the right location, adequate stores of honey and pollen, a good queen and strong beehives.
Supers that are not required by the bees should be removed when the beehives are prepared (or ‘packed-down’) in mid-late autumn for winter. Even with the best preparation, some losses of hives can occur during winter.
In cold winter, very few bees leave the hive. Limited foraging will only occur during brief periods of fine weather when the temperature exceeds 12 °C, provided there is no wind chill factor.
Bees don’t hibernate in winter. With the arrival of cold temperatures in late autumn, bees begin to form a winter cluster by grouping together to conserve heat.
The tight cluster fills some of the gaps between the combs. A compact outer shell of bees helps to retain the heat generated by the bees within the cluster. In some areas, a small amount of brood rearing may continue through winter, particularly in warmer districts near the coast and in warm desert areas. In cold inland areas, beehives are often broodless during winter.