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OK bee gurus, help me with basic bee behavior information. In the mid west, we, have seen big temperature swings. Mon/The we saw high 60's. Do the bees move stores in a couple day period or do they eat honey? I have read so many dead outs, honey inches away and the cluster does not move. How does it work when they go from cluster to bringing in pollen? This is not a life threatening question for the bees, more my curiosity. Thanks for all you guys contribute to the knowledge base.
 

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i have wondered the same thing '11, and i really don't know the answer. what i have been observing here is that on the cooler days say between 45 and 55 with sun and not much wind the bees mostly go down to the pond and get water, presumably to dilute stored honey with. when we get 60 and above they are bringing in fresh nectar and ignore the water. my guess is that they are keeping liquid feed within easy reach around the broodnest, using fresh nectar when it's available and diluting stored honey when it's too cool to forage for fresh nectar.
 

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Water gathering is a sign they are rearing a decent amount of brood. In february/march last year they were gathering warm condensation drips from the windows of my cold frame, sunny days in the 40's. The bees that left hive only gathered water. When warmer they were going for pollen too. Our winter last year was so mild the grass never really went dormant or turned brown.

The picture was taken exactly 1 year ago, at its peak I counted maybe 50-100 gathering water in March. During summer for cooling hives, the water gathers fly straight to the source and back.
 

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The bees will take advantage of days where the air around them is 45 or higher to relocate stores and look for more. If they have enough time and workforce, they supply the growing number larvae with food and get things where they need it. If the temps drop suddenly and those moved stores run out inside the area they are clustered on, the bees may starve--after eating all the brood. If you can move a frame of honey or honey and pollen right next to the broodnest, you would be helping them a lot.
 

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A couple of observations not found in beginner's books or introductory courses:
The bees can crawl at temps lower than they can fly.
All constructive work in the early season is done in the warmed interior of the cold-night cluster.
They can retrieve honey from overhead by taking advantage of the column of warm air rising above the cluster.
A shrinking cluster can lose contact with their overhead honey.
They must have enough bees to enfold the overhead honey inside the cluster warmed area to use that honey.
The insulating band of bees is thickest at the top to cap the heat rise from the broodnest.
(Reducing the heat loss)

If you put all that together, it's easy to see how a cluster can starve only inches from plenty in an extended cold spell. Periodic temps in the 40s, permits them to retrieve enough to keep them going. In the Lang hive, the break in functional comb at box joints compounds the problem.

Yeah, I know. It's all in my imagination.
Walt
 
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