Bees On Sugar Too Early

Honeybees on sugar almost two months early.

Bees On Sugar Way Too Early

Don't get me wrong, there was a time in my life when a warm day in late December would have been a gift. Temperatures in the 60s, however, are not typical of late Missouri December weather, although temperatures above average seem the norm as we end 2016.

Those warmer temperatures are not good news for my compact fruit trees, which are showing buds already, nor are they good news for my honeybees

All of my bee colonies were tucked into their hives in October ready for winter with a supply of sugar cakes in their top feeding shims, extra food in addition to their 60-70 lbs of stored honey to get them through winter.

In the past, they would eat through their honey before reaching the extra sugar stores on top, usually sometime mid-February. I added the sugar cakes on top in case weather was too bad to get to them between now and February, when they might need the added supplies.

Imagine my surprise when I peeked under the hive lids on Christmas Day to find the colonies already at the top of the hives, not only starting to eat the extra sugar stores but obviously having been into the sugar cakes for some time by the pattern they had left on the sugar.

Bees have apparently been eating the sugar cakes for some time now.

Bees have apparently been eating the sugar cakes for some time now.

The warmer fall temperatures have contributed to bees consuming their honey stores almost two months faster than normal. Bees usually cluster inside the hive, consuming the stored honey while they cluster and shiver to stay warm.

When temperatures outside are above 40F, bees consume more honey to fly around outside, depleting their winter honey stores. With temperatures closer to 60F, bees fly farther and consumer even more honey as they search for pollen and other food sources, further depleting available honey.

Looks like I will need to be making more sugar patties if these girls are going to make it through spring.

Come on, winter!