Winter and summer bees differ significantly in how long they live; 4-10 weeks (usually 6) for summer bees and up to 7 months for winter bees *.
What I didn’t know is that this is predestined from their time as a pupa (I had thought they just changed as an adult based on conditions). Apparently the temperature of the brood nest defines their physiology. Bees raised at 36°C will be summer bees, but raising them at 34.5°C will result in winter bees.
Cite : BBKA No223, pg381. HOBOS.
* winter bees are also noted for growing ‘fat bodies’ which allow them to store energy for longer periods which helps them get through the cold of winter.
I tried to overwinter a mating nuc this year for the first time. I put it inside a full size hive and padded with hessian sacking. But then the winter was too warm and they starved – too much flying, too little forage. They had filled the feed section with brace comb in autumn so it looked like they had plenty and I could not put more in for fear of drowning / burying bees on that comb.
Anyway, at the weekend I started the cleaning up task, and was quite sad to find the queen sat almost completely alone on a mini frame 🙁
Regarding pollen patties, I made a discovery. I had been putting them on with some cuts in the paper to allow access, over the crown board hole. Some loved them, others ignored them pretty much completely.
Then I put some on the top bars; there was more interest and they were getting into them.
Then I pealed them completely and pushed them down on the top bars. This resulted in them being rapidly consumed in all hives.
(At least I assume they were eaten – and not just thrown out.)
Also I have artificial swarmed two hives, so I am going to add additional patties to those to build up the numbers.