About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bees swarm bird food

What happens to the bees in this warm winter?

Honeybees head to the hive when temperatures drop into the 50s. They don’t hibernate, instead the worker bees surround the queen and form a winter cluster with their bodies. They flutter their wings and shiver to keep the inside temperature of the hive warm. In order to keep shivering, the bees must maintain their energy by eating honey.

The mild winter weather has encouraged bees to start foraging in mid-January, and unfortunately this requires more energy than usual. You will first notice hungry winter bees, if you feed dried fruit, cracked corn or grain sorghum (milo) in bird feeders because there are no flowers available to provide pollen.

Honey Bees sip carbohydrate-rich nectar from flowers and collect protein-rich pollen to make honey and food for their young. The protein is essential for the hive in the spring to feed newly hatched larvae. Even though corn is high in carbs, its kernels do contain some protein, so worker bees gather corn dust to take back to the hive.

Honey bees are unable to carry seeds back to the hive and process them for food. However they will carry small grains of the dust in their pollen baskets on their hind legs, and can even empty a bird feeder trying to get to this dust.

These early bees are only territorial of their hive and tend to only sting when immediately threatened. Birds still may be intimidated by the presence of the bees. If the bees are a problem switch to Wild Birds Unlimited blends that do not include corn or cheap filler grains like milo, so bees won’t be attracted.

Make sure to clean your feeder first before you switch seed blends to remove any remaining dust. You could also try to distract the bees from you feeder with an alternative source of food.

If you have bees showing up looking for food in the winter you can feed them a solution of 2 parts white sugar to one part water in a shallow dish. I only feed birds but some beekeepers feed brewer's yeast to their honeybee colonies to help them survive the lean times. You can read more at: How to Feed Brewer's Yeast to Honey Bees | eHow.com

And make sure to landscape with a lot of native wild flowers, trees and plants that bloom and produce fruit. This is not only good for the bees and birds but also for our environment.

Related Articles:
Do Honey Bees Migrate in the Winter? http://bit.ly/KIuKKv
When did people start to feed hummingbirds? http://bit.ly/KIuSK6
What’s the best bee-proof hummingbird feeder? http://goo.gl/1RmNs
Choosing the best bird seed http://goo.gl/jrpDX
How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/qizlNh
What is pollen? http://goo.gl/JlV9D

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