Could the day have been any nicer? I thought it was supposed to snow, but it looks like that big ol' storm is stuck over the mountains.
Down here in town, it was in the upper 40s and sunny. Warm enough for the bees to do a little housecleaning.
Yes, that's an undertaker bee hauling a body out of the hive. A good sign, as it means the bees are healthy and strong enough to clean up after themselves. Their lifespan ranges from 6 weeks in summer to a few months in the winter, so it's inevitable that you will have some losses from age.
In warmer weather, bodies will be carried away from the hive, sometimes a pretty good distance. This undertaker just made it a couple of feet (bees don't like to fly below 50 degrees) before discarding the body on some leaves. (As always, you can click these photos to see them larger.)
I also would not be surprised if some bees froze to death last week. Bees don't heat the space they're in, rather, they heat their cluster. They pack themselves into a tight ball around the combs, solid on the outside and looser on the inside. The bees vibrate their wing muscles to make warmth as the bees inside go about their business of eating, grooming and maintaining the brood comb. The inside temperature can be in the 90s!
Bees on the edges will take honey there and pass it in. If the weather warms up a little, the whole cluster moves to access more honey. If the weather stays really cold for long, they can't move at all and may starve to death just inches from food. Bees on the outside of the cluster who get too cold will fall off and die. They may also freeze to death trying to get to honey that is just out of reach.
I am still investigating feeding possibilities for this bunch, but not knowing the configuration of the hive makes it difficult. Apparently you can make solid sugar-based foods or get pollen patties (!).
I put a drop of syrup at the entrance and one girl slurped it up:
But it was a little cool to be luring anyone outside too much. Maybe on Monday, when we're supposed to get close to 60.