What Happens to Bees in the Winter?


Quick Answer

Although abundant in the summertime, bees hibernate during the winter, and sometimes remain in hibernation for up to 9 months of the year. Bees, like some wild creatures, retreat to their warm shelters during the cold winter months. Bees spend a considerable amount of time hibernating and preparing for hibernation; according to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, queen bees may spend up to three quarters of their lives holed up in winter shelters, seeking reprieve from deadly cold, diseases and starvation along with other bees in their colonies.

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Full Answer

Bees consider hibernating, like many other life tasks, a team effort. Bees follow rigid social orders, forming elaborate nests with queen bees, worker bees and males. Queen bees initiate the hibernation process, which begins with her drilling holes deep into northern-facing soil deposits. The hole serves as a protective cover, letting bees escape the wind and cold. Some experts believe bees specifically choose northward-facing locations because southern-facing holes receive more sunlight. In addition to adequate shelter from the elements, many bee species, including those in temperate North American and European climates, rely on abundant supplies of honey for winter survival. Honey helps maintain warm temperatures in hives and supplies bees with life-sustaining food. Honey also proves valuable during the hot summer months, when it acts as a natural coolant, keeping hive temperatures comfortably low.

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