As temperatures begin to drop, things start getting festive and the days are shorter than ever, have you ever wondered what happens to bees in the winter time? If you’re planning a glamping trip this winter, there’s no better place to be then outside and amongst nature to spot a winter bee. Be sure to check out some of the tips below on how you can help the bees during colder weather.
Bees undeniably play an integral role in our food supply and about 65 percent of plants rely on them for pollination. Entomologist Mark Winston, wrote in his 2014 book Bee Time “A world without bees would be almost impossible to contemplate” further cementing the vital part they play. Worryingly, there’s been a global drop in bee populations, with the insects being under threat from a range of perils including pesticides, viruses and climate change. It’s more important than ever to understand where bees go in the winter and what we can do to help them.
While honeybees hunker down in their hives during the winter time, other bees are more exposed to the elements and so vulnerable in colder seasons. Queen bumblebees tend to hibernate underground or amongst stones and logs. A great idea until we are hit with heavy rain and they are at risk of flooding. Unfortunately, some solitary bees follow suit and can be washed away by heavy rainfall as they wait for warmer weather. Insect hotels with hollow stems make a better home for solitary bees during periods of unpredictable weather.
Recent floods that swept the UK could have detrimental repercussions on the moss carder bee, a scarce species of bumblebee with strongholds in the North. It will be difficult to read the numbers situation until Spring, but with previous years seeing the worst floods on record in the UK, they will undoubtedly be affected.
Whilst the warmer winters of previous years have allowed active colonies to thrive, it doesn’t mean good news for all bees. Colonies of buff-tailed bumblebees take advantage of the early flowering of winter flowers such as mahonia and were even spotted on Christmas and New Year’s Day last year. However, bees emerging in the spring will find it difficult to find food due to this early flowering, causing a huge issue for solitary bees who rely on just one or two flower types.
Make sure you do your bit for the bees, at home and whilst glamping! Put out nesting materials, plan spring gardens, cater to warm winter bees with certain flowers and keep your garden or glamping area chemical free to give our little buzzing buddies a helping hand. Forget Bake Off, this year it’s all about the Great British Bee Count in May, to help monitor the rise and falls of bees across the country.