Like most living creatures, bees need to go to the bathroom, at least occasionally. In order to do that they need to leave the hive. In order to leave the hive it needs to be somewhere in the range of 40-45 degrees.
That can be a tough set of criteria here in Vermont.
Yesterday was the first day that temps had moved above the 30's since Christmas and the bee's took advantage of it. You can see in the second photo the little yellow splats. Well, that is what you think it is - in bee colors.
When it is cold the bees cluster in a ball shape in the hive in order to maintain a temperature in the upper 80's. Its amazing that with minimal-to-no insulation a bunch of bugs can huddle together and keep themselves warm and healthy when temperatures can reach as low as the 20's below zero.
We have 7 hives, and it is always an anxious wait to see how they are doing come the early warm spring days when they start to fly again. From walking by and listening close with our ears we can hear that all the hives are well with one exception that seems to have died. Thats unfortunate, but not unexpected. Come a warm day, we'll take the food reserves (honey in the comb) from the dead hive and parcel it out among the remaining hives.