Kenwood Press


Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

email print
News: 12/15/2018

How honeybees and beekeepers get through the winter



sonoma mountain
Kenwoodians Kristina Torres and Susan Luber with a finished beeswax luminary at a recent East Cluster beekeepers workshop.


By Thea Vierling, Kenwood


Lots of people think that honeybees sleep all winter long like bears, hibernating comfortably in their cave – or in their hive. Bumblebees and other native bees do exactly that, but not our hardworking honeybees. Honeybees are the only bees that make enough honey to last all winter long, which is why they are called honeybees. To do this, they have to drastically cut back on eating too much honey in the fall, and they do that by substantially decreasing their population. As winter approaches there’s only a very small cluster of bees in the hive. The population decrease starts in August and gradually falls to its smallest size by mid-January. Then, by the end of January, the population begins to grow rapidly if – and it’s a big if – they survive all the cold spells, all the smoky days, all the robbing by other bees, and the “robbing” by the beekeepers.

How do the bees decrease the population of the hive? The Queen stops laying eggs and the drones (male bees) that are still living get kicked out of the hive, starve, and/or are eaten. Those poor drones, who are so important to the survival of the hive in the spring, are not needed in the winter. They really don’t do anything in the winter except eat the food supply. Their bodies are bigger than the worker bees and they consume a lot of food, so the worker bees have to get rid of them to save the honey. Remember the temperatures in December and January can dip into freezing many nights, and the worker bees have to keep the ball of bees at a temperature of 94 degrees. If it is 32 degrees outside, they have to work a lot to raise the heat to 94!

OK, enough details about the honeybees. What about the hardworking beekeepers? The fall/winter is a busy season for them, as well. They have to clean all their equipment, bottle honey, get all the wax cleaned to make candles and lotion bars, and most important, get together socially to have fun and learn from each other. During this time beekeepers do not go into their hives at all, but gather at each other’s houses and work together. The East Cluster group of the Sonoma County Beekeepers Association (SCBA) did just that for the last two weekends.

Susan Simmons and Lauri Dorman, coordinators for the East Cluster, organized a workshop with the help of Kristina Torres and Thea Vierling. The group produced a lot of beeswax products. No one is the boss; we all learn from each other. Kids and spouses are welcome to join in the fun. Folks without bees who are members of SCBA can also attend. When we make a mistake, the wax gets thrown into the pot and melted down again for another candle.

These activities are community building and are some of the most important things we can learn from the honeybees. Honeybees live in a hive, which is like a small house, and are totally dependent on each other to get everything done to survive. We live in a “human hive” and what we need to do is help each other to create that feeling of belonging and that we are there for each other, especially in case of a crisis. This is something most of us knew before the fire of 2017, but, since the fire, it is something that we all talk about. We need to take care of our community, of our neighborhoods, and of each other.



Recently Published:

03/15/2019 - State Senator McGuire gives update to VOM Rotary
03/15/2019 - County offers housing help on several levels
03/15/2019 - A new book on Sonoma Mountain
03/15/2019 - Community workshops with Supervisor Gorin
03/15/2019 - Defining winery guidelines still on county’s radar
03/15/2019 - What’s next for Oakmont golf?
03/15/2019 - It’s swarm season again!
03/15/2019 - Cal Alumni Club gives out $16K in scholarship money
03/15/2019 - David Cook jumps into District 1 race
03/15/2019 - Neighborhoods at “every level of rebuilding possible”
03/15/2019 - You can do local radio!
03/15/2019 - SVCAC worried about water for cannabis project
03/01/2019 - Folks planting oaks...
03/01/2019 - Bay Area aiming at housing shortages
03/01/2019 - Sheriff’s Dept. warns of latest scam going around
03/01/2019 - Grants available for Sonoma County musicians and bands
03/01/2019 - New Sonoma Mountain book by local authors
03/01/2019 - Modifications to water basin boundaries approved
03/01/2019 - SRJC seeking members for Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee
03/01/2019 - Supervisor Susan Gorin will run again
03/01/2019 - Oakmont Golf Club to be put up for sale
03/01/2019 - Springs MAC underway
03/01/2019 - Kenwood School – home of the two-million-star chili
02/15/2019 - Input sought on restoration for steelhead habitat in upper Sonoma Creek
02/15/2019 - Docent training at Quarryhill

Community Calendar

Foster a cat or dog
03/22/2019
more...
Vegetation management
03/23/2019
more...
Oakmont Sunday Symposium
03/24/2019
more...
Glen Ellen-Kenwood Rotary Crab Feed
03/30/2019
more...
Looking for calypso orchids
03/30/2019
more...
Oakmont Sunday Symposium
03/31/2019
more...
Food Bank comes to Sonoma Valley
04/02/2019
more...
Rotary Club of Glen Ellen-Kenwood meeting
04/03/2019
more...
Season begins for women’s golf group
04/03/2019
more...
End of life law presentation
04/03/2019
more...
Annadel races benefit parks
04/06/2019
more...


Weather Underground PWS KCAKENWO2