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How to protect bees during the winter

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- Bees play a critical role in our ecosystem, which is why people need to work to keep them alive!

Bees are responsible for pollinating over 1/3 of the food we consume daily. Bees fertilize plants so they can produce fruit, vegetables, and seeds.

People also rely heavily on bees to produce honey. According to "Wildflower Meadows" a beehive is capable of producing up to 200 pounds of honey a year. The colder weather can be life-threatening to bees. It can lead bees to starve or freeze to death. To help keep them alive and protected people must work to provide bees food and comfort.

A Terre Haute beekeeper, Len Mullins, has eight beehives that contain thousands of bees. He shares various tips on how to keep bees alive during the winter. His first tip is to check to make sure they have enough food stored for the winter. 

"Make sure that they have enough food. If they do not have at least 50 pounds of food stored away then we need to start feeding them sugar water" says Mullins. 

Mullins second tip is to provide bees with proper ventilation. One can do this by putting boxes or paper over the hives to keep them warm. Bees create more moisture in the winter, which can be dangerous to their well-being. 

"Moisture is the big killer. If the bees get moisture in the hives it drips into the or actually on the big ball that they form then they're likely to not survive the winter." 

He goes on to say many bees will die off in the winter, but most are self-sufficient.

"They keep warm by shivering their wings and their wing muscles. That's how they generate the heat and the heat keeps the big ball of bees warm enough."

There are several things that you can do to keep your local bee population thriving such as putting apples in water for bees to consume or feeding them plain sugar water. Mullins says bees are a crucial part of our ecosystem and we shouldn't fear them, but instead, thank them for all they do for our environment. 

For more tips on how to keep bees protected in the winter click here

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