A renowned researcher has explained why mild temperatures in winter can be bad news for bees.
Prof Robert Paxton from Martin Luther University in the German city of Halle told broadcaster MDR: “If temperatures drop below zero, the honeybees are keeping each other warm in the hive by gathering around their queen.”
The zoologist explained that the bees were consuming comparably few energy sources by moving their muscles as they avoid getting cold.
However, the situation is significantly different if temperatures rise substantially, as experienced in Central Europe this winter.
Prof Paxton said: “Temperatures of five, 10 or even 15 degrees centigrade tempt the bees to wander around. They physically distance themselves from the queen.”
He added: “They might consume all of their honey supplies because of such energy-intense actions.”
Prof Paxton – who co-authored more than 15 scientific studies last year – has been a professor of general zoology at Martin Luther University since 2010. He previously spent seven years as a lecturer in insect ecology at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Germany’s beekeepers managed 982,000 hives in 2021, according to the European Commission. This was a 3.3 per cent increase compared to the previous year.
The country is among Europe’s 10 leading producers of honey.