In winter, honeybees remain in their hives, occasionally coming out on sunny days. Bumblebee queens may be seen if mild weather encourages them to emerge from hibernation. Solitary bees remain in their nests until they’re ready to mate. All need nectar if they emerge during winter, otherwise they’re in danger of dying from starvation.
More on bee-friendly gardening:
- Make your garden bee-friendly in spring
- Make your garden bee-friendly in summer
- Make your garden bee-friendly in autumn
- Bee-friendly spring pot display
Help bees survive in winter, by following Kate Bradbury’s practical guide.
Create leaf and twig piles
Create leaf and twig piles for bees to shelter beneath. Let fallen leaves stay where they drop and avoid disturbing them from autumn through to spring.
Leave compost heaps untouched
Leave compost heaps untouched, and avoid digging your soil until spring.
Grow ivy on walls and fences to give shelter from heavy rain and provide a late nectar source for species that are still on the wing.
Grow winter flowers
Grow winter flowers such as Clematis cirrhosa, crocus, hellebores, mahonia, sarcococca, snowdrops, winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis), winter heathers (Erica carnea) and winter honeysuckle (Lonicera x purpusii).
Find out more about plants for bees.
Kate Bradbury says
If you find a queen bumblebee in winter and there are no nearby flowers to move her to, don’t ignore her. Mix 1tsp sugar with 1tsp water and pop it in a bottle top next to her. She will drink this solution (similar to nectar), which will give her enough energy to fly to a new hibernation site, or start a nest.