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Winterizing Bees

With a Washington winter in full swing and the agriculture season slowing down, we bet you're wondering where all the Royal Honey beehives are! This blog post will highlight what we do to keep our bees happy and healthy during their cold off-season!

Bee Activity:

During winter, honeybees enter a state of reduced activity known as torpor. Torpor is a type of hibernation that allows the bees to conserve energy. Their metabolic rate drops, and they become less responsive to external stimuli. This state of dormancy helps the bees minimize energy expenditure, allowing them to survive on the stored honey reserves and added food until spring.


We store our thousands of beehives in a storage facility similar to a potato or onion shed. With each beehive having a unique queen and colony, we are careful to stack our hives accordingly. To keep each hive from fighting over resources and ensure queens do not bump heads, we layer the hives with wooden lids. We also keep the storage facility dark to ensure the bees remain in their state of torpor.


The temperature of the storage facility must be monitored to ensure the bees do not freeze and to also keep them from flying out of their safe hives. We aim to keep our facility at 40°F to keep the bees comfortable! While this may sound chilly to you, the temperature within the hives is high - reaching 93°F! Bees will form a "winter cluster" where all the bees gather together with the outer bees vibrating their flight muscles to produce heat. With all the hives producing this heat, it is essential to monitor the temperature and keep the bees from coming out of their torpor.


Bees produce and store honey during the long days of summer to help them survive the winter months since plants will no longer provide nectar to feed on. Although we extract honey, we ensure the bees have sufficient food to survive. One way to boost their food supply is to add a sugar-water substance to a feeder in their hive. This allows the bees to receive the energy they need!

Keeping our beehives in a safe and monitored facility keeps our hives happy and healthy! When the warmer months come, we take our hives out of storage and the bees are ready for another season of making honey!


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