Photo Credit: Ankhesenamun / Unsplash
[Article written by Daemon Dias]
Winter is almost here in Canada, which means that yet another year has passed where we didn't win the lottery and move somewhere tropical. Sigh. This also means that we need to be prepared for the cold weather with our winter attire, home heaters, and other necessities to make it through the frozen winter. What does winter mean for bees, though? How will they survive this winter? Spoiler: it is typical for only the queen bee to live to see the spring season. Still, winter is a challenging time for all hardworking bees.
Unfortunately, bees did not win the lottery, much like us, and they cannot migrate south. Thankfully, they don’t require nearly as much as we do to make it through winter comfortably (luxurious shelter, Netflix, excess food, etc.). Usually, a small nesting area and some food are all that a colony needs. A beehive colony will use most, if not all, of its resources, ensuring that the queen bee stays warm enough to make it through winter. If the queen bee does not survive, the once populated hive will not produce worker bees for the spring and our plants will be negatively impacted. On the bright side, we can help queen bees survive this winter through the process of "winterizing" our gardens by doing one or all of the following:
1. Planting winter honeysuckle, aconite, or even snowdrop flowers, all of which provide food for bees.
2. Leaving dead plant stems and leaf litter piles, and avoiding digging in your garden, as bees may be nesting there.
3. Putting a bee hotel in your garden, or better yet, drilling into an existing tall tree stump to create a natural bee hotel.
By doing one or all of these three things, we give bees a higher chance of living into the spring season and do what they do best, pollinate!
So, if you’re looking for an easy way to help our pollinators this winter, try out these tips and let us know how it goes! We can’t wait to see all that you’ve done for our bees.
Back to Nature: Bee Hotel Controversy, Brittany Cooke
Making Homes for Wild Bees, Mother Earth News
What Do Bees Do in the Winter?, Backyard Beekeeping
What Do Honeybees Do in Winter?, Scientific American
5 Things You Can Do to Help Bees Over Winter, Revive a Bee