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  • Writer's pictureLisa Lewis

Have you ever wondered?

What do bees do in November? What do I do in November?

Bees Cluster in their hives, eat honey and keep the hive around 65 degrees! This keeps the queen safe and alive to produce new brood in the spring. in order to support the survival I feed the bees up in the fall, just before the real cold sets in here in Wisconsin. Check out my video Channel for a video of this!

The rest of the time I am working away and making our lovely skin care products and shipping them off to you and to Amazon prime!

( or walking the dogs, or eating good food or horseback riding...)

On Weekends I can usually be found promoting and selling our products at Holiday fairs!

see calendar here:

One of the fair organizers asked us all to fill out a blog questionnaire and provide photos for her Crafty Fair Facebook page, I thought you all might enjoy it too.

1) Name: Lisa Lewis

2) Business Name: Cackle Bee & Bloom Skin Care

4) Tell us about yourself & your business: My Bees and honey are the inspiration for and the base of my skin care products. Honey is amazing for the skin! A perfect humectant and full of micro nutrients. I started making skin care products from my bees honey about 15 years ago when I realized how many toxic ingredients were in the expensive facial care products I was buying and how beneficial honey is for your skin. My first products were my super soft non-greasy synthetic free lotion and my Facial Revival Cream. Both recipes have evolved over the years in response to my own and customers ideas of the perfect face cream and lotion. My business began as just sharing with friends and family who wanted what I was making for myself, then turned into Cackleberry Apiary then simplified to Cackle Bee and creating a farmer’s market type product and then I added wonderful craft and maker shows and built a website to up my game. Last year I had my top selling recipes FDA approved and super concentrated them to reduce plastic use (less water = more applications per package) rebranded them as Bloom Skin Care and dove into the puzzling world of Amazon, on top of all the local love. My goal with Amazon right now is getting Reviews, a tricky project. Locally and on my website the Cackle Bee Favorites have a glorious life of their own, those products will all be at the Crafty Fair with my Bloom Skin Care line. You will love Cackle Bee Holiday specialty scented NOEL Soap and NOEL Lotion. Most of all, I really enjoy seeing all of you!

5) What are you most excited to share at The Crafty Fair? I am so excited to be sharing the new look of my Bloom Skin Care Line so folks can see it is still handmade by me. I am Also excited to see my long-term customers/friends who turn up at shows. So FUN! I count myself as very lucky in the years I get a spot at THE CRAFTY FAIR!!!!

6) What is a craft you would like to learn? Glassblowing!

7) Best advice you've been given business wise or other wise: Play ball on running water, don’t try to perfect and then put it out there, put it out there and keep perfecting it!

8) Crafty crushes. Every one of the vendors here is selected for a very high quality of handmade work. I am very pleased to be included and I do most of my own holiday shopping at this show.

9) Favorite pass time: oooooh big toss up…. Scuba diving is a big one and walking the dogs and riding horses, gardening.. hanging with my bees, eating yummy food… uhoh, too many. Life is Good.

And finally a lot more technical info about overwintering bees!

How do bees keep warm in winter?

The behavior of bees is affected by temperature. There are three temperatures that are important to the bees: 1) air temperature, 2) body temperature, 3) the cluster temperature.

When the temperature of the air is between 57-100°F, honey bees are usually eager to work. However, they cannot fly very well when the temperature is below 55°F. Some sources state that flying activity does not take place outside of the 50-110°F air temperature range. On very hot days, honey bees will congregate on the outside of the hive if the hive is not well ventilated and if it gets too hot inside the hive. When it is especially hot, honey bees prefer not to work. However, on very cold days, for example, throughout the winter months in places where it snows, bees do something much different.

Honey bees do not hibernate. Instead, here’s what you can expect from your honey bees in the winter:

When the air temperature is around 64°F, honey bees can begin to cluster together in the hive to keep the queen and themselves warm. At outside air temperatures of around 57°F, the honey bees will cluster more closely together and the exterior of the cluster with appear more compact. When temperatures drop to 23°F or below, the bees on the inside of the cluster begin vibrating their wing muscles to generate heat, which aids in bringing up the internal core temperature of the cluster. The bees along the outer shell of the cluster remain motionless, acting as a layer of insulation.

Honey bees make no attempt to maintain the temperature in the domicile outside the winter cluster. The temperature within the cluster itself varies. Warmer bees from the inside of the cluster continually change places with the colder bees along the outer edge of the cluster to allow the colder bees to warm up.

The optimal core temperature of a honey bee cluster in a winter hive is 95°F (35ºC). 81°F (27°C) is the average temperature observed on the inside of a cluster, while 48°F (9°C) is the average temperature of the exterior shell of the cluster. The highest temperature of a cluster that has been observed is around 100°F (37.8ºC).

The minimum temperature of the inside of a cluster has been found to be around 55°F (12.8ºC), while the minimum temperature of the outside of the cluster that honey bees can tolerate has been observed to be around 46°F (7.8ºC). Some sources state that the outermost temperature tolerance of a winter honey bee cluster is 44°F (6.7ºC).

Snow actually insulates the hives!
BRRRRRR Wisconsin Winter

Another way that honey bees regulate the temperature of their hive is through the use of “heater bees”, whose job it is to vibrate their abdomens, allowing them to vigorously move their muscles to heat their bodies. This action can bring the bee’s body temperature up to about 111°F (44°C), which is 16°F (9°C) higher than their normal body temperature. These bees will crawl inside of empty cells to keep the surrounding cells warm. One single heater bee is thought to have the ability to keep up to 70 adjoining cells warm.

It has been observed that weaker colonies might starve in winter even though they have plenty of honey in the bar right next to the cluster. This is because the bees are unable to generate enough heat to allow the cluster to spread out over the adjacent comb. However, it has been seen that stronger colonies can more easily change cluster location and size.

In the winter, cleansing flights will occur if the air temperature is above 44°F (6.7ºC), as the body temperature of the bees will be slightly higher, so it is still possible to perform short flights. If the body temperature of the bee falls below 50°F (10ºC), paralysis of the bees’ muscles can begin to take place. At a body temperature of 45°F (7.2ºC) the bees appear “frozen”, meaning their muscles can no longer move.


Owens, Charles D. (1971) The Thermology of Wintering Honey Bee Colonies. US Agricultural Research Service

Root, Amos I and Root, Ernest R. (1919) The ABC and XYZ of bee culture. Bee Culture Magazine

University of Kentucky Entymology Department (2017, June) “Basic Beekeeping Operations” [Blog post]

McDonough, Margo. (2011, February 3). “How insects survive the long, cold winter” [Blog Post]

Anonymous (2009, February 29) “Bee cluster, flying and active temps” [Blog post] Bee Hive Journal

Bean, Karen E. (2010, November 23) “What happens to honeybees in the winter?” [Blog post] Brookfield Farm Bees & Honey Blog

Hiskey, Daven (2012, June 30) “How honey bees keep their hives warm given that they are cold blooded” [Blog post]

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