Bumblebees in Winter
Posted on 28th December 2020 at 09:02
Here at All Aspects Pest Control, we don’t see bumblebees as pests, ok, occasionally they can be a nuisance especially when they’ve built their nest right by your back door but more often than not, this will be in something like a bird box and we can relocate that for you to someplace else in the garden without harming the bees.
Bumblebees generally aren’t aggressive to us and will only become agitated when you approach or interfere with their nest, bumblebees are important pollinators that we should encourage into our gardens. Education is the key to ethical pest control and so we write blogs on bees as a form of conservation as opposed to our usual take on insects which will be eradication.
Just like Queen wasps so the Queen bumblebee hibernates during the winter months, the similarly stops there, where wasps truly hibernate, its common especially on a sunny day to see bumblebees flying around the garden. I like the fact that you can usually hear them coming as the air is free from other insect and bird noises associated with summer.
Queen bumblebees may spend half their life in a state of hibernation however one species, the buff tailed bumblebee will be very active during the winter months and often seen flitting about the garden. What are these bumblebees up to? Well, there are many types of winter flowering plant all in bloom waiting for pollinators to come along and it’s not surprising that some bumblebees take advantage of these plants and the nectar that they supply.
Winter flowering plants such as mahonia and winter honeysuckle will be hard to find for these bumblebees, modern gardening follows trends, and the trends have moved away from these types of plants and as gardens get increasingly smaller and smaller, so their presence is getting hard to find for the hungry bumblebees. You may come across a bumblebee lying on the ground, it maybe that the bumblebee is simply resting but often the reason is that the bee has simply run out of energy to keep on flying. You can help the bumblebee if you have flowering plants nearby, you could try carefully moving the bee on to the plant to help it along or make up a energy boost solution of sugar and water.
Take white sugar, not brown sugar or honey as this can be bad for bumblebees and mix it with warm water at 50% of each ingredient, place the mix on a small plastic pot lid or other shallow item; a teaspoon will do and place it in front of the bumblebee. If the bumblebee is in need of a bit of a boost it will lap up the solution, reenergise and then fly off, it shouldn’t need to be ‘rescued’ or taken inside your home.
Bumblebees need to be in cooler environments to return to hibernation, you can place it somewhere out of the wind and rain while it recovers but it’s not a good idea to take the insect indoors.
In spring the Queen will emerge from hibernation to find herself a suitable nesting spot; bumblebees will often nest in the ground so an old mouse hole or in a space under a garden shed is ideal.
The first task for our Queen is to build herself a honey pot from wax, inside the pot she will store a small quantity of honey to feed the hatching larvae with. She will mix pollen and this honey to make a food called bee bread; this is for her to eat as she will now lay her eggs to start the new colony.
Bumblebees like birds will sit on the eggs to keep them warm; this is the start of the new colony which may just need a little helping hand from us. Keep an eye out for tired, hungry bumblebees over the long cold winter as we need these pollinators for our future; pest control is about the management of our environment and not just the eradication of every insect or animal that we see as a pest.
Tagged as: Wasps, bee's and hornets
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