After all the autumn work has been completed in early November, the bees form a so-called winter cluster in the middle of the hive. They sit tight together with the queen in the middle, and in this way they hybernate until perhaps some day in February when the warming sun makes them wake up again.
Even when hybernating, they move around a bit and feed on the sugar water that they have been given in return for the honey we 'robbed' them of. Then we can just wait for the first snow to cover the ground and part of the hives. This picture is from January 2006.
The winter months can be quite severely cold in Norway. But even by outside temperatures of about -20 centigrades, the temperature in the hive is well up on the plus side - even up to 25 - 28 degrees. The covering snow serves as an extra insulation against the cold. Provided that the hives have floors with ventilation, the bees can sit 'cosily' together inside the hive. It is very seldom that the snow is so compact that the bees don't get any air. But if that happens, we need to go out with a spade.
This picture was taken in March 2006. The winter 2005-06 was particularly long and cold, with more snow than we've ever had.