Ever wondered what happens to Decatur’s bees when winter blows in? Faced with
freezing temperatures and few flowers, different bee species have different ways of
In bumblebee colonies, only newly-mated queens survive the winter, hibernating in the ground or deep under leaf litter. In spring, these queens emerge to start new colonies from scratch.
Developing mining bees on the other hand, remain in their pupal stage during winter
awaiting lengthening days and rising temperatures that signal they should emerge from the ground as adult bees. This emergence can be seen around Decatur in early spring. Look for their distinctive red dirt mounds -- commonly mistaken for anthills.
Unlike other bees, Decatur honeybee colonies are active all winter. When temperatures
allow, they forage for food. In freezing conditions, they cluster together and shiver,
generating heat to keep their queen and young warm. During winter months, a
honeybee colony may consume up to 50 pounds of stored honey.
Mason bees, Carpenter bees, Sweat bees, Ceratinas and other native species each have unique survival strategies and are all a part of the fascinating eco-system that is a backyard in Decatur!
Where Do Bees Go In Winter?
Bumble bees hibernate, honey bees do not
Photo credit: Angela Wynne