View Full Version : How cold of temps can bees fly in??

01-10-2005, 05:06 PM
I have a 5 frame observation hive in my family room. I keep a desk lamp plugged in and turned on several times just to add a little warmth to the bees(we keep the house 60 - 65 degrees).

Just a short time ago the bees started humming loud and getting all worked up and running out the tube(about 8 inches long)that leads outside(about 30 degrees).
I now have several(about 20 dead bees) on my landing board.

Why would they do this when it is so cold outside. I watched as they did this and several bees tried to fly but only lasted a short time before they fell to the ground.

01-10-2005, 07:44 PM
they got warm and needed to take clensing flights. In michigan I have seen bees come out of the hive and fly 10 feet before freezing in mid air. ( the temp was 16 degrees f but sunny so the hives were warm inside.)

Robert Brenchley
01-11-2005, 03:46 AM
I've seen hives flying strongly in the high 40's, but you won't normally get much action below that.

01-11-2005, 09:35 AM
A big factor in their flying temps is the breed. Italians are considered more of a tropical bee and generally don't fly until the outside temps reach 55 degrees. Caucasians, Carniolans, and Russians are considered to be more of a cold weather bee and are thought to be better suited for northern climates. They usually get out at 45 degrees.

Jim Fischer
01-11-2005, 09:56 AM
Trying to "overwinter" a colony in an observation
hive is possible, but difficult. I move mine to
standard woodenware every winter, and every
spring, create a new observation hive colony
headed by a "retired" queen by making a small

With a large enough entrance tube, the bees
will notice that "it is cold outside", and
will not fly out to die. I like the clear
"diary tubing", as it is available in sizes
that will slide over, and can be clamped to
PVC plumbing fittings of the 2-1/4 size.

Bottom line, bees have nothing to do in
winter except stay warm, and it is impossible
for them to form a proper cluster in the
usual observation hive arrangement of "one
frame wide". If they are kept warm, they will
only get into trouble, and if they are kept
cold, they will die, due to the lack of a
cluster to keep themselves warm.

01-11-2005, 01:14 PM
Ok... How do you tell one breed from another. All my bees are from wild hives and this is my first year keeping bees.

48 degrees north
01-11-2005, 04:54 PM
We always have really bright sunshine when it's cold here. After a recent spell with highs around -15 F the temp got up to 0 F two days ago. The hives are in full sun. About 15 bees tried to fly from one hive, and about 30 from the other. One bee made it about 10 feet from the hive but the rest perished within a few feet of home. I wonder if I should tarp them or do something to make it darker in there?

01-11-2005, 08:19 PM
Hey Sparkie, it's hard to distinguish between breeds, but generally the three bands on the abdomens of Italians are more orange/brown colored, whereas the bands on Carni's are more grey than brown. From what I've been told Russians, Caucaisians, and Ferals all look similar to my Carni's. As for the rest I'm still trying to find more info myself.

As for swarms, I find it very difficult to tell. Some that I have hived show promise of being feral survivors, but there is much speculation as to whether or not any survivors still exist. Just because you don't know there are any keepers in the area doesn't mean they don't exist, and if the keepers hives are throwing swarms, then those swarms may be caught by another keeper that thinks he's found a "feral" swarm. I would like to believe that ferals still exist, but how can we be certain?

Some say that the diversity of the size of bees in a swarm is a good indication of being feral, but I have a few hives that I have run with foundationless frames that show a great deal of size diffirence within each colony, who's to say that other keepers aren't doing the same thing.

I personally would like to find a reference guide to show diffirences between breeds, as they do with butterflies. Does anyone know if one exists, as I have yet to find one.

Michael Bush
01-11-2005, 08:32 PM
Try seraching the web for "morphometry" or "wing veins" and "bees". Usually wing veins are distinctive for each race.

01-11-2005, 11:59 PM
My OB hive survived quite well last year and may survive this year too. Last year it was in the split basement of my quad-level. It was about 65 in that room and sat in an eastern window. I kept feed on them and started feeding pollen patty in early March. I had to split it twice last year.

This year it is in a different house and a bit cooler. They are taking syrup and not using the stores. The NWC queen shut down very early this fall. Unfortunately they are not as heavily populated as last year, so it may be nip and tuck, but I think they will do fine again.

Michael Bush
01-12-2005, 06:27 AM
There were a lot less bees in my observation hive this fall going into winter, so there are a lot less now. I'm not sure if they will make it or not. But last winter there were plenty going into winter and they did fine. My other observation hive (at someone elses house) seems to be doing well. It went into winter with a good poulation and is still pretty strong.

01-12-2005, 05:55 PM
>>Why would they do this when it is so cold outside.

I think that the bees that are determined to fly during cold weather are bees that are dieing anyway. Bees in my wintering room act exactly the same, but have no increases of temp or light to trigger flying. So then why is my floor covered in bees? Becasue they are dieing, nad prefer to die outside the hive. I always have more bees on my floor in November, December than March or April. November and December are the dieing summer bees,..
Every time I say this, beekeepers tell me that Im nuts,.. just my opinion my why bees scatter the snow in my beeyards