Frozen fish and honey bees in winter

by - 12:21 PM

        Sometimes things seem odd when they really aren't at all



Torpid fish  © DFries


















The cold sealed the fish pond, first with ice, then with snow, making it impossible to check on the torpid goldfish below.  I wondered if I should heat up some water in the kettle to melt a little hole in the ice to get them some oxygen before drifting off to bed but by morning, with a winter thaw seeping into New England overnight, nature had done the chore for me.  A lazy swish of an orange tale in the pond muck below assured me the fish had survived their temporary entombment.

Later, on a dog walk, as I reached down to redirect my socially challenged rescue project from his barking I noticed a honey bee had hitched a ride on his back.  When I bent to take a closer look it flew off leaving me to wonder about the effects of this warm day in the middle of winter on a honey bee.

After a some research what I’ve learned is that unlike goldfish, honey bees do not hibernate.  Bees like to stay in their hives during the winter once the temperatures drop.  And, when the real cold sets in bees bunch together to stay warm, moving together to keep the queen as comfy as they can since their job is to get her through the winter.  Like a well honed team, the bees in the middle slowly move to the outside of the bunch so that each bee can get warm and eat a little while maintaining a comfortable hive temperature.  Since bees do not poo in their hive they essentially “hold it” until the temperature gets to about 50 degrees and they can take off for “cleansing flights” emptying themselves along with what you can imagine is a great sigh of relief. 

So, it’s not unusual at all to see honeybees in the winter months and thaws are good for bees at least and for you and me, and the dogs seemed pretty happy about the unusually warm day too.  

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