The Winter Solstice

the winter solstice.jpg

The Winter Solstice has been observed as an important date in beekeeping for over 2000 years.
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Read more to find out what the ancients have to say about winter and bees.

Aristotle says in Historia Animālium (History of Animals) Book IX
circa. 4 B.C.

"In healthy swarms the progeny of the bees only cease from reproduction for about forty days after the winter solstice."

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Pliny the Elder says in Naturalis Historia (Natural History)
circa. 77 - 79 AD

"From the winter solstice to the rising of Arcturus the bees are buried in sleep for sixty days, and live without any nourishment. Between the rising of Arcturus and the vernal equinox, they awake in the warmer climates, but even then they still keep within the hives, and have recourse to the provisions kept in reserve for this period."

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Virgil says in Georgics, Book IV
circa. 29 B.C.E

"Contracto frigore pigrae."
"With cold benumbed, inactive they remain."

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In the book 'The Universal Magazine of
Knowledge and Pleasure' circa. 1755

"The ancients mention a very extraordinary method of preserving the bees in their hives, which was by filling up a considerable part of the vacancy of every hive with the bodies of small birds, which had been killed, gutted, and dried for that purpose. This was certainly a way of keeping out some of the cold air, but it is so odd an one, that, probably, no-body since that time has tried it."

Original source unknown: perhaps Columella, Palladius or Pinly (the elder)

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Image: Stonehenge - Winter Solstice 2014