Snow was still on the ground today with temperatures only reaching 35F. It was sunny and calm so some bees took the chance to make cleansing flights in spite of the temperature. Some unfortunately didn’t make it back to the hive and died in the snow. The sight of dead bees in the snow around the hive and on the landing board can be worrying to the new beekeeper. They aren’t suppose to be flying when its near or below freezing, right?
In truth they will take short cleansing flights on calm sunny days even when it’s cold. It was common to find discolored spots in the snow and a dead bee here and there when I returned from work on a calm sunny day. Overall it’s a good sign, no bees and it means your hives are dead or missing. A few dead in the snow means they are alive and functioning normally. After all, with 10-20,000 bees in a hive over the winter, quite a few will die of natural causes every day. Normally they will try to leave the hive or will be dragged out once dead (and sometimes even when not quite dead).