Colder days bring a different routine for bees. Bees in autumn will be less active but can still be seen gathering food.
Bumblebee colonies will produce males and new queens in autumn, with the latter needing to eat well before hibernating in winter. Solitary bees and bumblebees don’t store food, so they need easy access to flowers throughout the year.
Bees and other pollinating insects love plants that are rich in nectar and pollen; the nectar gives them sugar for energy and the pollen has oils and proteins for a balanced diet. In addition to food, bees need water and shelter
What Happens to Bees in Autumn?
New worker bees in this season have the fat-producing gene switched on so they can put on weight and stay warm. These overwintering bees can live up to six months, unlike spring and summer workers bees that work tirelessly to collect pollen and nectar and only live for around six weeks.
You may also see bees flying around looking for food on warm winter days, so make sure to plant vital flowers for these pollinators.
When the weather gets too cold for honeybees to fly and work, they huddle together in their hives to retain warmth, with the queen at the centre. They use their honey stores for food but also forage on warmer days.
Bumblebees have an annual life cycle, with queens being produced and mating in both the summer and autumn seasons. Old queens, workers, and male bees die by winter. Although queens tend to hibernate through winter, over the past decades some have chosen to start new nests and remain active.
Solitary bees tend to die off before winter, with the working female bees sealing their eggs with pollen and nectar stores. Yellow-faced bees, leafcutter bees, and wool carder bees grow from egg to larva throughout the summer and overwinter in their larval stage. In the Southern counties of the UK, warmer weather allows for solitary bees to mate during autumn and overwinter as adults.
Give Them a Place to Sleep and Live
A bee log, for example, is a perfect home for solitary bees; they can lay eggs in the tubes, fill the tubes with food, and seal them. Foraging bees will also thank you for shelters in which they can hide from the rain.
In addition to a bee house, you can also leave a long patch of grass in the garden and not discourage mice from making their homes. Bumblebees love using old mouse holes as a home. And the long grass will provide bees with shelter from the rain, too.
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Provide a Bee Feeding Station and a Watering Stop
A bee feeder will also help any butterflies visiting your garden. You can use a water and sugar solution to fill the cups and brush the sponge. The bright yellow colour will help attract bees so they can pollinate plants and increase fruit and vegetable harvest and flower production.
Bees need water to survive, particularly honeybees as they need it so they can make food for their young and maintain the hive cool and humid. They typically collect water during the summer months but it’s always a good idea to keep providing them with a water source throughout the year.
Whether you have a pond or you’re using a container and filling it with water (preferably rainwater!), you need to provide bees with safe landing places. Add a few rocks, wine corks, or even floating-leaved plants so they can land and have a drink.
Plant Late-Flowering Plants
You can plant wildlife-friendly seeds for bees and other pollinators. Some flowers you can plant are:
- Winter-flowering heathers, such as Erica carnea varieties, which are low maintenance and colourful.
- Verbena bonariensis attracts bees, butterflies and moths, birds, and other pollinators to your garden.
- Larkspur flowers are toxic to humans and livestock but they’re great for pollinators like bumblebees and butterflies.
- Winter-flowering honeysuckle, or Lonicera x purpusii, flowers in winter and early spring.
- Michaelmas daisy, also known as an autumn aster, are great late-flowering plants for your garden.
- Echinacea purpurea is a purple coneflower ‘Magnus’ with lovely pink flowers in autumn.
- Penstemon flowers are great for autumn, with various colours to choose from such as ‘Bodnant’ with purple and white flowers, ‘Flamingo’ with pink, red, and white flowers, and ‘Flame’ with red flowers.
- Abelia, or bee bush, produces delicate, white flowers that attract honeybees and bumblebees.
Helping our bees is vital; their numbers have been declining, which will affect our food production and availability. Transform your garden into a bee haven today!
Get in touch with our team by giving us a call on 0845 602 3774 or 01695 554097. We’re always happy to help you place your order if you have any questions!