Bee pluribus Unum

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July 31, 2018 by jhoffdog


Top layer of bees in the thermoregulating cluster.
(Picture from

Winter is a deadly season for insects. The cold temperatures claim many multi-legged and buzzing victims. Yet bees have adapted to combat these temperatures. When temperatures drop below fifty degrees, bees travel back to their hive. The main goal of the workers is to keep the queen safe and warm, but they also protect each other. Bees form a cluster, called a thermoregulating cluster, in the center of the hive. Layer upon layer of bees form, with the queen in the middle. It is then the job of the bees to flutter their wings and shiver, creating heat and regulating the temperature of the hive. To keep up their energy, bees will have stored up honey during the hotter seasons and eat their reserves. Some hives are reported to eat up to 30 pounds of honey in a single winter!

This cluster method may seem unfair to the bees on the outside of the huddle- they don’t get any of the heat! The older bees begin on the outside of the cluster, with the younger ones in the center. But fear not, because bees rotate. Bees on the outside of the cluster slowly make their way to the middle, while those who start in the middle then move to the outside. Out of the huge number of bees in a single hive, they all come together as one to ensure their continuation.


“What Do Bees Do in Winter?” Wonderopolis,    do-in-winter, Accessed 21 June, 2018.

“Where Do Bees Go in Winter?”,,   , Accessed 21 June, 2018.

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