How Cold Will Bees Fly?

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Brian D. Bray:
I am continually amazed at bees and I learn something new every year. 
Yesterday (Christmas) the weather warmed up to 1-2 degrees above freezing for a couple of hours.
Today, 30 F, snowing hard, my daughter (the beekeeper) went out to feed the livestock and found bees in the chicken waters that hadn't been there yesterday.  So, previous to yesterday the lowest temperature I've known bees to take cleansing flights was 38 F on a clear sunny day, but yesterday was not clear or sunny, it was overcast and at least 3 degrees below the previously lowest known temp, not to mention the adverse weather conditions.
She thought the bees might be short on stores and so I sent her out to feed granulated sugar to the hives.  She came back to report that the OWC hive (hers) had broken cluster, (some actually flew about when she opened the hive) but that were still plenty of stores in the hive but she'd gone ahead and feed them the sugar anyway.  My hive (Russian) were still in tight cluster with no noticable movement and plenty of stores observable, she also feed it too. 
Cleansing or water flights are the only reasons I can think of for the bees to fly.  We've had 2 weeks of temps at or below freezing and that might be a part of it too.  But at 33-34 F in the snow and wind?

Comments please.

Jerrymac:
I have noticed many times bees flying at temps below 45F. The other day it seemed really cool out, the sun was shining and no wind to speak of and they were out in force invading a root beer can that was left on the porch and collecting water from a drip hole on a freezer. But... I didn't pay any attention to what the temp was.

Two Bees:
Brian,

On Monday of this week, I noticed bees flying and it was 38 degrees.  I also thought that 45 degrees was the lowest temp that they would fly.

Yesterday (Christmas) the temps were higher (56) and I saw bees bringing in pollen.  Not sure where they were getting it...........but they were bringing it in!

 

Brian D. Bray:
Quote from: Two Bees on December 26, 2008, 09:40:00 PM

Yesterday (Christmas) the temps were higher (56) and I saw bees bringing in pollen.  Not sure where they were getting it...........but they were bringing it in!


It has been my experience that, regardless of the time or season of the year, if the be get out of the hive there is a pollen source available.  The the notable exception of when said pollen source in buried in snow.

Michael Bush:
If the sun is out and you have dark bees they fly in quite cold weather.  If the sun is NOT out and the bees are Italians, they probably won't get out until it's 50 F.

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