As the beekeeping year winds down and the nights become long and cold, honeybees tend to huddle into winter clusters, hunkering down for the icy cold months ahead. These winter bees gather into a tight unit, preserving their heat and honey. They become less active, as their goal is not to expand or make honey, but rather simply to survive. They are perfectly happy to stay inside their comfortable home, keep warm, and ride out the winter.
Sometimes this warm and comfortable home, however, attracts unwanted guests. The life of a mouse during winter is not particularly easy either, as a mouse is always on the lookout for both shelter and warmth. And nothing quite beats the comfort of hanging out inside of a beehive while the bees are hard at work keeping it warm. Not only is a beehive sheltered and warm, but it also contains free food in the form of pollen and honey. Believe it or not, usually during winter, a mouse can actually take up residence in a live beehive and live perfectly well alongside the bees!
During most of the season it would be impossible for a mouse to coexist within a live bee colony. The population of bees is simply too high and too active in the peak of the season for a mouse to survive for too long without being stung. A summer colony is booming with activity and plenty of guard bees. Winter colonies, however, are small and inactive, thus making them perfect targets for opportunistic mice.
Once inside a colony, a mouse can not only chew through valuable food stores, but also cause damage to the honeycomb, and contaminate the combs and woodenware with urine. From both the bees’ and the beekeepers’ perspective, mice really are unwanted guests.
Lets be honest though, the little guy in the above picture looks perfectly innocent. You might even think that he deserves a nice home. But sorry, Mr. Mouse, the bees and the beekeeper tend to disagree.