What happens to honey bees during the winter?

Getting a beehive through the winter is the greatest hardship in Routt County beekeeping, said Bill Fetcher, who keeps seven hives between the Fetcher Ranch in North Routt and his home a few miles north of Steamboat Springs.

“If I were a queen bee with a colony, I would not choose to settle here,” Fetcher said. “I’d want a warmer climate, like Grand Junction or Glenwood Springs, farther south where the weather extremes aren’t so harsh.”

Bees and snow do most of the work to keep a hive warm through winter. A beekeeper might make minor adjustments to the hive to improve insulation or ventilation in the winter months, such as wrapping a hive in black plastic to help it better absorb the sun’s heat or altering the opening of a hive. A blanket of snow on a hive helps insulate it and keep it warm, too. Besides that, though, it’s up to the bees.

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