With winter fast approaching, Blue KC Executive Chef and resident beekeeper Kyle Williams gave us the scoop on how bees handle the colder months – and it was hard to ignore the similarities between humans and bees when it comes to winter preparation and activities! Take a look at the ways bees are just like us in wintertime.
They’re not fans of the cold
When outdoor temperatures begin to dip, we all reach for our cozier coats and winter weather gear. While you won’t catch a bee sporting a parka in January, they do use their own kind of winter protection.
“The queen stays in the middle of the hive, the rest of the bees form a ball around her, and they just slowly walk around [the queen] to generate heat,” Chef Kyle explained.
By staying close to each other, the bees stay warm enough through negative temperatures, ice, and snow.
They stock up on food
It’s nearly impossible to resist the temptation of comfort food during the winter season and we’ve all gone to the grocery store to stock up on ingredients for warm meals to prepare when the weather outside is frightful.
As Chef Kyle explained, bees have their own stockpile of comfort food, too. Honey from the Blue KC beehive has not been harvested since September, as that is the bees’ only source of food in the winter so there needs to be enough to feed them for the season.
They spend time with their friends
We all spend time with friends and family during the holidays, and bees are no different…they are just very discerning when it comes to who they spend their time with.
“A bee colony is about 90-95 percent female, with one queen. What they do before winter is kick all the remaining males out of the hive, so it becomes 100 percent female,” Chef Kyle said.
New males become a part of the hive in the spring, once the cold weather ends.
They keep a low profile
Winter is known as the season of “hibernation” for a reason – we all prefer to stay indoors when it’s cold and dark out. This season is a more relaxing time for bees (and beekeepers!) as it’s best to leave them alone until spring.
“You typically don’t touch the hive,” Chef Kyle said. “You can’t open the hive on a cold day, or it could mess with the bees.”
Chef Kyle and his team will now wait until spring and warm temperatures return to check on the bees regularly again. In the meantime, Chef Kyle has plenty of honey to incorporate into seasonal treats like pumpkin cheesecakes and parfaits served at the Live Blue Kitchen + Café.
Follow our monthly series, where we’ll go into more detail about the new hives, the journey from hive to table and share recipes featuring fresh honey.