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I was wondering what happens in the winter with bees. Do they hibernate? Do they all die and you need new ones the next year?
Also, I’m curious if you know if it is legal (or possible) to keep bees within the Rapid City limits?
I’m not well versed in beekeeping yet, but I’m very interested.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Honey Bees are cold blooded but unlike other insects, they do not die off nor do they hibernate. They are active all winter and they eat and metabolize their stored honey to keep warm. The honey bees form a ‘winter cluster’ and their constant ‘shivering’ movement keeps the hive warm. The core of the cluster (also where they protect the queen) can be from 64 to 90 degrees in the winter and the outside layer of the bees stays around the 50 degree temp.
Honey bees only live a few weeks (about 6) during the summer while ‘winter bees’ live from 4-6 months.
A colony of bees is made up of one Queen, a few Drones (male honey bees) and the rest are females. In late fall, the honey bees throw the Drones out of the hive so they don’t waste energy and food on the males. Come spring, they will ‘make’ new Drones.
Depending on how cold the winter is and how many food stores the colony of bees have going into winter, they can make it through our Rapid City winters. Members in our club have experienced heavy bee losses over the past couple of years even though the bees have food. Some of this may be due to parasites – or due to the range of temperatures where it gets quite warm in the winter (and the bees break their cluster) – then turns extremely cold and the bees die. There are numerous reasons why the bees may not winter well.
It is legal to keep bees in the Rapid City limits and many of our club members have their bees in their back yards. The colonies must be registered with the State of South Dakota (it’s a $12.00 annual fee for one or more colonies).
Please feel free to come to one of our bee club meetings at the Canyon Lake Senior Citizens center. Visitors/guests are welcome. The meetings start at 6:00 PM on the 2nd Wednesday each month.
Thank you for your interest,