Hello all! Happy Holidays! I hope everyone had a joyous end of the year and happily celebrated whatever you celebrate! Here's to a great 2012 for us all and our bees!
I have a winter-wondering question. Winter bees generally have longer lifespan than summer bees, right? 3 months vs. 3-6 weeks or something like that. My question is is the longer life physiological or is it due to clustering? In other words, do the bees live longer because they are not out flying around and wearing themselves out? Or are they somehow formed to live longer.
I ask because our weirdly warm winter has my ladies still flying on most days, and even bringing in pollen. I doubt they are finding any nectar though, and they have consumed almost all of the dry sugar I put on top of the hive for emergency stores. (I plan on adding more, I think they still have some honey stores as the hives still have some weight, but it is going to be close). My worry is that if the foraging does affect life span, and the queen is no longer laying (i observed very little brood on my last look in November), that my cluster won't be large enough when/if the cold of January - February hit.
I realize there isn't anything I can do but watch and wait and I have already resigned myself that these 2 baby hives have a small chance of making it, but this is just one of the worries/wonders my experiment / chance taking has inspired.
What do you guys think? Will the warm weather foraging reduce my numbers ? Or will the winter bees still live longer and be able to cluster come the colder weather?