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Updated: Nov 25, 2018

The southeastern blueberry bee is one of the earliest bees to emerge in the spring.

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.

Mining bees emerge as adults in the early spring

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!

Learn more:

Where Do Bees Go In Winter?

Bumble bees hibernate, honey bees do not

Photo credit: Angela Wynne

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1 Comment

Claudia McDavid
Claudia McDavid
Nov 26, 2018

Really enjoyed finding out what happens to different bees in the winter - once again, a good reason to leave leaves and dead plant matter over the winter to provide more habitat for over-wintering bees and other insects. We can always clean up our gardens in early Spring!

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