Bees on the snow?
We have about five or 6 inches of snow on the ground where I live. Every few yards there is a dead be on the surface of the snow. They are about 50 yards from the hive although I imagine they are also closer to the hive as well. My guess is the hive warms up when the sun shines on it and B’s takeoff until they hit a bit of shade and then crash. Thoughts on this?
This is normal behavior.
During winter months, even with snow, honey bees may break cluster on a sunny warmer day and take cleansing flights.
On those days bees that are about to die fly off the hive and try to get as far from the hive as possible.
This is what they usually do during the season, but with better weather they usually die far from the hive and if they die closer to the hive you wouldn't probably see them. The snow cover allows you to easily spot the dead bee, so you are aware of that happening.
Bees naturally try to get off the hive to die for different reasons (to keep the hive clean and unobstructed and to take away any disease that may be causing them to die).
As temperatures get lower, bees tend to die at the edge of the cluster inside the hive and just drop to the bottom board. Eventually they will pile up and they could cover the bottom entrance. this is why we recommend cleaning the entrances about once a month during winter, to make sure the dead bees do not clog the entrance.
As long as you see some dead bees on the snow, it means they're keeping the entrance open. As soon as you get a two to three weeks of very cold, cloudy weather, we'd recommend cleaning your entrances.
But for now, your bees seem to be keeping things clean by themselves.
Thank you, Ari
Very clear and helpful explanation