In autumn, old bumblebee colonies die and newly-mated bumblebee queens find places to hibernate. They may choose a hole in the ground, a compost heap or a spot under piles of autumn leaves.


Late-flying species, such as the common carder bumblebee and the solitary ivy bee, may be seen. Honeybees will come out to feed during warm, sunny weather.

More bee-friendly advice:

Wildlife gardening expert, Kate Bradbury, explains how you can help bees at this time of year by providing food and shelter, below.

Build a log pile

Make a log pile
Log pile for wildlife

Build a log pile or stumpery for foraging bees to take shelter during rain, or as a nesting site for a wide range of solitary bees and bumblebees. Loosely fill spaces between with twigs, moss and leaves.

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Leave some nesting places

Leave a patch of long grass
Mowing a path through long grass

Leave a patch of grass to grow long and don't discourage mice in the garden, as bumblebees like using old mouse holes, bird boxes or thickets of grass to nest in.

Grow nectar-rich plants

Bee on a hylotelephium flower
Bee on a sedum flowerhead

Grow a range of late-flowering nectar plants such as Actaea simplex, asters, colchicum, single-flowered dahlias, Japanese anemones, salvias, sedum, goldenrod, tansy-leaf aster (Machaeranthera tanacetifolia) and Verbena bonariensis. Find out more about plants for bees.

Kate Bradbury says

Planting spring-flowering bulbs in autumn will ensure you have a good supply of pollen and nectar for queen bumblebees emerging from hibernation. Crocus, snake’s head fritillary, alliums and grape hyacinth are all a great spring source of food for bees.

Kate Bradbury