So what does the Winter solstice have to do with honey bees?
First, wikipedia’s definition of the winter solstice:
“The winter solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. Though the winter solstice lasts only a moment in time, the term is also a turning point to midwinter or the first day of winter to refer to the day on which it occurs. More evident to those in high latitudes, this occurs on the shortest day, and longest night, and the sun’s daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the winter solstice occurs on December 21 or 22 each year in the Northern Hemisphere, and June 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere. The 2010 winter solstice will occur on December 21, at 23:38 pm UTC.”
With that said, the reversal of shorter day light hours will mean longer daylight for the bees. The sun will be out longer and this will trigger the bees, mainly the queen, to get going. The queen bee may start laying eggs to prepare her colony for maximum growth especially when some of the fruit trees start to bloom late January to February.
This is great news for the smaller colonies out there but this year’s freezing cold Winter has been pretty harsh. I still have hopes for my Cowper and Sunshine colonies.