Now's the time to think about what plants you will have in your garden over the wintertime for bees. Everyone thinks that bees hibernate over the winter time but actually they don't. Bees stop flying when the temperatures drop down to around 10 degree celsius. They stay inside the hive and go into a big huddle to keep as warm as possible, this is called a winter cluster. The queen is kept inside the cluster to keep her warm and safe. The colder the temperature the more compact the cluster becomes. The worker bees create heat by shivering and they also move back and forth between the inner part of the cluster and the outer part. In this way no bee will freeze in very cold climates.
On nice sunny winter days you can see bees flying short distances out of the hive and then quickly returning. The trouble is that is is often a dearth of flowers for them to forage on over winter, so it's great to have some plants flowering in your garden over the wintertime for them.
Here's a list of flowers you could have in your gardens for bees over the wintertime:
- Pineapple sage
- Lung wort
- Japanese anenomes
- Fatsia japonica
- Strawberry tree
- Blue Bells
- Winter-flowering Clematis
- Winter-flowering honeysuckle
- Native hebes
- Cornelian cherry
- Winter-flowering cherry trees
For more ideas on planting for bees please check out the Tree For Bees website