Here we have collected some information about bees and what thy do to survive during and over winter. From survival techniques during winter to other habits that allow them to survive, we hope we have something for everyone in this article.
So, do honeybees and bumble bees hibernate? Bumblebees and Carpenter bees do hibernate but honeybees do not. It is all down to their productive life cycle and survival strategy differences.
Do bees hibernate in houses?
Often people living in countryside areas will complain that they have bees emerging from their homes just after their winter begins to slake. But most of the bees aren’t active enough to be foraging yet so how does this happen?The bees are in fact emerging from inside the countryside houses!
A very special breed of bee known as the carpenter bee is responsible for this. Carpenter bees are ingenious with their nest building. They drill holes into the exterior of the houses that they target. Sometimes they target so far into the house that they reach the interior living spaces. Mind that this can only happen with wooden houses and not other brick and mortar versions.
See our other article for more information on what bees can shew through: https://schoolofbees.com/what-can-bees-and-yellow-jackets-chew-through/
What’s more, trapped bees will try and drill their way out. This is because we keep sealing the exterior of our homes in such a way that their exit is covered up. Not only does this increase the risk of structural weakening due to multiple drilling but it also increases the risk of the bees entering your home during the mid-winters. Hence we have uncovered their quirky technique of surviving the winters by drilling into houses but what do the other bees do? Do they have more means of surviving the winter? Let’s read out next topic for more information.
How do bees survive in the winter?
Bees are generally not very active during the winter months. Both their broods and colonies get reduced to a large extent for the duration of the colder months. During winter, the honey bees do not hibernate. However, they do reduce their activity but how? They actively work and build within the hive and the colony but none of them ventures outside for either foraging or other work. Their prime goal is to work hard to keep the hive warm and safe.
On the other hand, bumblebees do not follow the same ritual. Bumblebees work hard to find safe places for the queens. Queens as in multiple. The last brood of the bumble bees before winter arrives consists of only queens who find protected safe places just big enough for them. After this, they hibernate inside these spots with their metabolic state depressed and their life function in a sluggish manner as mandated by the hibernation process. The queens remain like this through winter and the rest of the bees die.
So we can see that both types of bees have a very tough time surviving through winter and they do it in their own ways but they always ensure that their queen is alive to build the newer colony and newer bees when the time arrives.
Some bees also survive the winter through various quirky habits that we are going to discuss now. Some drill into your homes and even go dormant. But most bees belonging to the bumblebee species will sadly die off during the harsher and coldest winter months.
Do bees go underground for winter?
A lot of lawn keepers and garden lovers are familiar with this next species that we are going to talk about: the ground-nesting bees.
Did you know? Bees use our lawns and create dirt piles. But what are these dirt piles? These are their nests.
Here they create their broods and lie in wait for the next oncoming seasons where their activity increases. Bumblebees on the other hand also have their queen bees hidden in the ground. From these chosen hidey holes and spots she starts to build her next brood for the oncoming seasons. Thus, we can safely say that there are a lot many bees hibernating or resting in the grounds during the harsh winter months. They do this to survive the harsh conditions in which they would otherwise die but this can be a source of consternation for many farmers or lawn keepers.
Do bees go dormant in winter?
Our next topic has more than one definite answer. There are some species of bees that go dormant during winter but honeybees definitely do not.
Honeybees always live in a community and strive as a community and here too they survive the winters as a community. In fact, honey bees collect enough energy sources to support a small portion of their population called the minimum colony number state and they have to use that to generate enough heat so that they can all survive within the hive. They go through winters with their only aim being to generate enough heat and safeguard the hives until they can rebuild and grow again.
Most other bees go through a phenomenon called overwinter. This is a state where they are full grown but have not fully emerged as adults from the older stage called pupae. In this state, they will remain within their colonies and bear through the winter on stored food. Hibernation is not strictly what is used by most bees but it is practiced by the bumblebee which hibernates but only the queens survive while the other colony members die. Hibernation is a smart way of going through winter as it requires very little energy. Thus, there is very little risk to the loss of life due to weather conditions, loss of heat or even low food or energy supplies.
Why do bees die in the winter?
Unfortunately, a number of bees die off during the winter due to a large number of reasons like starvation, temperature fluctuations and excess moisture in the hive. However, one of the main reason why honeybees die lies in the fact that humans often rob their prime energy sources. Often, beekeepers and others steal more than necessary honey from the hives which force the honeybees to death. Not only do they have to cope with lower energy sources but this also results in the direct failure of the colony.
However, starvation of the hive can be fought off externally by providing them with food sources and allowing them to feed well. The moisture problem though cannot be as easily removed. Bees create a large amount of moisture within the hive during winter as they do not leave the hive at all. Moreover, the hive is sealed to prevent heat from escaping. What this means is that moisture levels can reach an extreme level where water droplets form and fall on the bees which is extremely fatal towards the bees and the hive itself.
The only solution to this problem is to create ventilation in the hives. But this must be done in a proper manner so as to ensure that their precious heat doesn’t escape. Strong winds and diseases are another problematic elements which can completely designate a hive or a colony. The hive structure is strong but often cannot stand the strain of very strong winds or even infestations which result in the death of hundreds of members of the colonies. And if these occur in the winter months then the bees have almost zero chances of survival as they are already weak from the temperature fluctuations and harsh conditions of the winter months.
Beekeepers and other nature lovers have a hard time ensuring that the hives are healthy and able to survive the winters but it is possible and their efforts have immensely helped in keeping the population numbers of the bees healthy and strong.
Hence, we can see that bees have a really hard time during the winter months. From starvation to hard work and hiding in the ground, they have been forced to come up with a number of ways to ensure that their colonies survive the winter or their queens survive to create a new colony after the winter passes. From overwintering to hibernation, we have learnt about all their ingenious methods that have kept the bee population from declining badly during the winter months.
However, despite all these actions and steps, a number of bees do end up dead during the winter months and more and more due to the excessive greed of humans who steal they’re homey and deprive them of their energy sources.
After reading all their struggles and their problems, hopefully, you will be able to help them survive the winters and flourish in the upcoming months. Just remember to check which types of bee are in your area so you can provide the best habitat for them.