A bite-size answer to the question: where do bees go in winter?
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We’ve enjoyed a wonderfully warm spring here in South East England and the garden has been full of wildlife – blooms, birds, bugs and bees of all kinds. Last weekend, a honey bee had made its way into my little boy’s bedroom so together we gently set it free. “There are a lot of bees around at the moment aren’t there” I mentioned to my son. “Yes daddy” came the reply, followed by “but where do they go in winter?” That’s a good question I thought. So what’s the answer?
Well, it depends on the type of bee. Let’s focus on two of the most well known kinds, the aforementioned honey bee and the bumblebee.
Honey bees cease flying when temperatures drop below c.10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). In winter there are no flowers in bloom and therefore no pollen or nectar available. Instead, they gather around the queen in a sort of vibrating ball or cluster. This movement keeps the queen and colony warm enough to survive throughout the winter. During this time, the bees consume honey stores in order to live and generate heat.
With bumble bees however, the adults die with the onset of winter leaving only the queen hibernating until the spring when a new generation will be created.
And if you’ve been wondering about wasps, the majority of the colony also dies in winter. The mated queens vacate their nests to find suitable spots in which to hibernate until the arrival of spring, and a new nest is then constructed.
So there we go, a bite-size answer to the question where do bees go in winter.
A couple of incidentals: Worker honey bees are female and do all of the work! Drones – the only male honey bees – die immediately after mating (eek!).
If you would like to read more bite-size answers to commonly asked questions then please visit: www.butwhydad.co.uk
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