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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I happened to see something odd on top of the snow when I got home for lunch, so I looked closer.
Yep.... bees on their cleansing flights and were unable to make it back. It happens, unfortunately.
Good thing these are strong hives.

I guess this happens when we finally get a sunny, warm (a balmy 23 degrees) day. Bees also suffer from cabin fever I suppose. lol

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I see that as well.
If you see them flying out of the hive, it seems as if some confuse down with up and crash hard into the snow. Many don't even get a flight in, it's straight into the ground a few feet away. If they come off the snow they still fly like the ground is up and crash again.
Others here on beesource have also commented on this, most recently Mike Palmer I think.
Maybe the bright reflection off the snow on a clear sunny day confuses them.
 

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When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.

The Olympics will remind us of the recent practice of tossing pine branches on the slopes, or marking the half-pipe with dye stripes. Winter athletes would probably buy into the idea that flying over snow is disorienting. That's a pure guess, of course, but something to figure out how to test.

Maybe video could show it. If they roll inverted and crash, likely the extra ocelli eyes used to track the sun can't deal with bright white below?

Plain old cold could do it, too. That skimpy fur coat on an Apis thorax is OK in the summer, not in the winter, and they're otherwise nearly uninsulated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The bees were alive and out for their cleansing flight. You can tell because of the small trails they left in the snow before they perished. That and I saw a few crawling on the snow. It's sad, but life happens. This is all part of it.
 

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Bee retirement plan: Please go die somewhere else.

I've got a number of pictures I took of one bee working some garlic chives. These are unusual for two reasons. First, I was able to keep up with this one bee for quite a while. Second, I was trying to figure out what subspecies it was, because the ends of the wings were ragged. The answer, of course, was that it was Apis mellifera geriactrica, a very old bee that may have been on its last flight.

They do make one appreciate the good life, don't they?

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Trying to identify what kind of bee has serrated wingtips, I found myself at a loss. All subspecies of honeybee have pretty rounded wingtips. That's when I learned the shameful truth. People are ageist ... they don't post pictures of old bees. That old girl deserved to have her picture taken, and be remembered.

Yeah, I know, it was just a bee. It did her no good ... she was just a cell in a superorganism and had about run her course. But bees will teach us a little humility if we let them. They work until they drop, without complaint.
 

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After seeing the huge loss of bees in the snow yesterday, I've now covered the snow in front of the hives with a large tarp. This may work or maybe not; I'll see on the next warm day and report back.
 
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