Bees in Winter
The UK’s 250 bee species have distinct winter behaviours. Where solitary bees tend to hide away in the cold months (known as overwintering), other species start their life cycles in winter, ending them when they lay their eggs in autumn. And the winter habits of social bees, such as bumblebees and honeybees revolve around their hive and queen.
Moreover, our changing climate is affecting spring temperatures and therefore, the hibernation patterns of bees. Bumblebee queens who usually hibernate over winter, have been observed to begin nesting in October or November and produce workers that collect nectar from the increasing abundance of native plants are growing in the British winter.
That considered, here are 5 ways you can continue to help the bees throughout this winter:
1. Keep your garden alive!
Planting winter flowers like crocuses, snowdrops, winter heather (Erica carnea) and winter honey suckle (Lonicera x purpusii) will allow active bees to feed in the winter months.
2. Grow ivy
Ivy serves as a shelter and source of protection for bees in the winter as well as a potential source of nectar.
3. Embrace the mess
By leaving fallen leaves and twigs as they are, bees are allowed a further source of shelter. Alternatively, make your own leaf and twig piles.
4. Ditch the spray
As is commonly known, chemical pesticides are toxic to many creatures, not excluding the honey bee. Pesticides have many harmful environmental effects and this winter is the time to ditch them for good.
5. Plan for spring
By planning early, you can ensure you have the right seeds or bulbs planted at the right time to help any bees emerging from hibernation next spring.