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Where do the nurse bees come from in overwintered hives? Do the older bees have the capability to return to brood feeding bees?

I though that only young bees had properly developed hypopharyngeal glands needed for feeding brood.
 

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I've wondered the same thing since my queens stop laying in Oct the and only started laying the 17th of Jan that's 3 months no brood so yes I would say the older bees are capable of feeding the brood AND the queen
 

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The last bees out of the comb in the fall overwinter (along with a goodly number of the others). They have not foraged, and stay nurse bees. Most hives will raise small amounts of brood all winter long, starting after the winter solstice, and those bees along with the younger fall bees will be nurse bees.

Bees can "revert" to nurse bees as well if the need arises, although I'm not sure they do as good a job as the newly emerged ones.

This is why a good population of well fed, healthy bees is necessary in the fall -- if you don't have strong bees going into winter they won't survive until spring and cannot raise the proper amount of new bees.

Peter
 
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