Wintering, Bee

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wintering, Bee


maintenance of bee colonies in bee farms over the winter. The duration of wintering varies with the climatic conditions from two to three months (in the southern regions) to five to six months (in the central and northern regions of the USSR).

The bees are placed on the lower, honeyless cells of the honeycombs in the warmest place in the nest of the hive. They collect in a solid mass in the side branches of the nest and form a cluster separated by honeycombs. The outer layer (crust) of the cluster, which prevents the heat from escaping, is made up of almost motionless bees tightly packed together. The lower the air temperature, the more solid the crust. At 0°C the crust is 5-7 cm wide; toward spring when the temperature rises to 6°C or higher, the crust disintegrates. The bees are more loosely distributed in the center of the cluster where they move about freely, emitting heat. In strong colonies, the temperature inside the cluster does not fall below 15°C in the initial period of the wintering (before the brood appears), but it rises to 34°-35°C by the end of wintering. The temperature is highest in the central branches, one of which contains the queen.

The nest is completed with honeycomb frames at least half filled with sealed honey. The frames containing little honey are removed from the nest. Strong colonies are usually left with nine to ten standard frames; colonies in multisection hives have two sections (20 frames). During winter, the bees feed on honey by breaking the seal of the cells. As the bees of each branch consume the honey, they move upward with the entire cluster, reaching the upper part of the honeycombs by spring. When feeding on good-quality honey (not admixed with honeydew) and completely dormant, a colony consumes about 30-40 g a day. At the beginning of fall, at least 2 kg of honey (15-17 kg per colony in the southern regions and 18-20 kg in the central and northern regions) are left in each frame. If honey is in short supply, the bees are fed sugar syrup (3 kg of sugar to 2 / of water) that is poured in the evening into feed boxes placed in the nest next to or above the frames; 1.5 kg of syrup is needed to substitute for 1 kg of honey.

Bees winter at liberty in heated hives (set up where their summer hives were located) or in winter beehivps. The hives are taken out of the winter beehive in spring on a calm windless day when the air temperature is about 12°C. To hasten the spring development of a colony, the bees are set out early when the temperature is 3°C or even -1°C. The bees in colonies that wintered safely raise many broods and gather much honey in the spring.


Avetisian, G. A. Pchelovodstvo. Moscow, 1965.
Vinogradov, V. P., A. S. Nuzhdin, and S. A. Rozov. Osnovy pchelovodstva. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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