General Question

AceSpadez's avatar

How long can a bee stay frozen?

Asked by AceSpadez (136points) January 5th, 2011

I know that you can freeze them, and they can come back to life. But how long can they stay alive while frozen? If I had it in there for over a year would it still come back to life when thawed..? I wouldn’t think so, but I’m still curious about how long they COULD survive being frozen. Anyone know?

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15 Answers

BarnacleBill's avatar

In looking at various articles online about beekeeping, it appears that bees do freeze to death in the winter. This appears to be influenced by lack of food and being able to remove waste from their systems while frozen.

Arbornaut's avatar

dunno bout bees dude but we used to freeze big freshwater aussie crayfish when we were kids and they would come back to life after an hour or two in the freezer. not sure about any longer i reckon they’d cark it. good question though.

marinelife's avatar

Not long. These frogs, however, are designed by nature to freeze and thaw.

stardust's avatar

Poor bee :/

gondwanalon's avatar

I remember when I was a kid I put house flies in the freezer. They appeared frozen and some revived when I took then out of the freezer to room temperature. But were the flies actually frozen solid? Likely not. Perhaps the bees that you talk about that revived after a brief freezing treatment were not actually frozen solid. A way to find out the survivability of bees to truly being totally frozen solid would be to conduct a little experiment with some bees and a beaker of liquid nitrogen. I hypothesis is that the bees (any species) wouldn’t be able to survive even a short 5 second dip into liquid nitrogen.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I love this Q. Just sayin’.

MissAusten's avatar

If the bee (or any insect) is in the freezer long enough to become frozen, it will die and not “come back to life.”

What happens with any insect is that being cooled in the fridge or freezer will cause the insect to slow way down. It may even appear dead, but once the insect warms up it will become active again. My son has several bees in his insect collection, and he killed all of them by putting them into the freezer. Even bees that were pinned into the collection less than a day after going into the freezer stayed dead.

I’m pretty sure if you leave a bee in the freezer for even an hour, it will die.

Coloma's avatar

I have no idea, but..I do know that a big cockroach can be soaked in Raid, put in a matchbox, ‘dead’, and revive a few hours later. !!!!!

True story

AceSpadez's avatar

Thanks for all the feedback guys. I’d feel bad about freezing a bee on purpose. I was just curious about their revival from cold. I first discovered that bees dont always die when they are exposed to near freezing temperatures when I was 8 years old. It was winter and I noticed a dead bee in my windowsill, I fished it out of the window and threw it in the trash. I thought it was a miracle when it ‘came back to life’. Ever since then its always facinated me… I always wanted to know how that happened, and if in fact they could stay frozen for long periods of time and still be alive

Coloma's avatar

Actually I don’t think they are actually ‘frozen.’

I think it is called a ‘torper’ or ‘torpor’, hummingbirds can go into a semi-unconscious mode when it is very cold.

Maybe read up more on that.

It is a way an animals can lower their heart rate, slow down body processes and not need to eat for periods of time when conditions are very cold.

tourun's avatar

I’m not an entomologist but I’ve been in the pest control industry for about 6 years now. I don’t know about bee’s specifically, but generally an insect must be frozen (below 32 degrees) for 6 days to die. This has been primarily tested on roaches and bed bugs. This is also based on gradual freezing where an insect is able to create it’s own ‘antifreeze’ (best way to describe it without getting too technical). Freezing instantly will usually kill the insect.

Coloma's avatar


Wow…that’s interesting. Welcome to fluther! :-)
Send a truck to my place I am having a baby mouse explosion since we have had such a warm winter so far. lol

MissAusten's avatar

@tourun That is totally and completely false. We routinely freeze insects to quickly kill them for insect collections and preservation and it takes very little time for the insects to die. Less than an hour. There are some rare exceptions for certain bugs that have evolved to be able to withstand having their bodies partially frozen.

It’s amazing that an exterminator doesn’t need to know even basic information about entomology.

fidler716's avatar

It may depend on the type of insect being frozen, as not all living beings have the same physiology. I can speak to my own experience as a youth with freezing hornets. Several times my brother and I would catch hornets and freeze them in our parents spare freezer; the temperature was at least 32F or 0C. We would freeze them for several days (perhaps 4–7) and they would revive just fine. Our discovery was incidental: We actually believed the hornet to be dead and it subsequently revived and flew away. It was motionless and had been frozen for some time and we intuitively believed to to be dead. The jar that it was caught in was opened up and we were examining it visually; we left the porch area for lunch and when we came back a couple of hours later, it was gone. We then caught others and repeated the process without removing the lid and found that they did in fact re-animate. In conclusion, it is a fact that some insects can be frozen for a period of time and not expire. The extent or duration to which this can be done is dependent on each individual insects physiology.

mike250's avatar

I have personally seen houseflies that were apparently frozen for weeks then thaw out, revive and fly. This happened several years ago when I worked at a restaurant, and the beef cuts were shipped frozen in sealed boxes from Argentina and were plainly marked as such. We opened one box of the frozen meat, and I saw there was a couple of frozen, dead flies. Several minutes later, I saw the same flies wake up, start moving around and they flew! Until then, I assumed that insects died when frozen, especially if a few weeks had passed. The incident made me wonder how many harmful insects have made it into our country on frozen foods that were shipped her whether by ship or plane.

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