First, don't forget that the bees were getting for winter with their work over the summer! We left approximately 60 pounds of honey in each hive for them to eat during the long Minnesota winter. They have also been hard at work sealing every miniscule crack in the hive with propolis - it's very sticky stuff.
Unlike the dwellings of some other stinging insects, the honeybee hive is year-round. The bees themselves cut down in number, carting the deceased or lazy outside and dumping them outside the entrance. The remaining bees huddle with the queen and do a sort of hibernation. Bees become quite inactive, but they are able to survive by clustering together and doing their normal work of regulating the temperature of the hive. It can be hard to winter bees in Minnesota, but we are going for it!
To help the bees along, Mr. Bee wrapped the hives with tar paper. What we've heard is, the bees can handle the cold, but they can't handle being wet and cold. The paper should help with that (crossing our fingers!).
We have been so grateful for all the time outside this year while we assembled, inspected, checked, maintained, and observed the hives. I made sure to take a fall photo of the area in front of the hives, so you could compare it with earlier in the year.
I also tried to capture these fall scenes for you...