Wintering bees is always a challenge, but isn’t rocket science! Bees are originally from warm climates but have adapted to live even in the coldest of places, like Southern Colorado!
Most large bee keeping operations have shipped their buzzing friends off to warmer lands where the Queens of each colony will keep laying with no break.
Winter is when the colony gets to rest, and the Queen slows and stops laying until spring. She can take a breath and enjoy her subjects, and explore her honey and wax filled domain.
Master Bee keepers around the world are baffled at Colony collapse. It isn’t a mystery to us small hive keepers.
The key to a healthy thriving colony is a strong Queen. Bee. By letting her majesty rest, she will be ready for the task come warmer weather of building her brood, and then swarming to a new kingdom leaving the domain to her new princesses. ( Who May or May not combat her fellow chosen sisters for the right to be the Queen for the remaining hive.) Workers will continue their duties and help the new Queen as they would the last.
The Queen rules the hive, but doesn’t run it. Worker bees see to her every need, from cleaning her chambers to bringing her nutrient rich royal jelly from deeper in the hive made especially for her and her brood.
By treating the matriarch of the hive with gentle respect ( opening the hive only when essential for inspection, proper wintering and rest) shell thrive and live for a long time. A master bee keeper told me that back in his grandfathers day a Queen could live ten years if she was cared for. Now they live and average of 3-4 years. I asked him why he thought that was. He only shrugged and set the bear trap.
I believe in my humble opinion that the cause of a major collapse is the loss of a healthy, strong Queen. When we ask her to lay 12 months a year when her biology says 7-8 (depending on her location ) you can imagine Jar the extra work would have a toll on the entire colony. But that’s my hummmmbumble bee opinion on such a sticky matter.
We moved our small hive into a better location that has longer winter sun exposure, and makes their purge flights more convenient for everyone!
The entrance to the hive is facing East, and gives them morning warmth.