Do Bees Hibernate?


by: Victoria Roberts

I’m fascinated by bees. During the summer they’re busy at work pollinating and stinging away. Many people are frightened by bees, and allergic to their sting as well. A bee sting can kill, if you’re not careful.  Half of the people who die of bee sting anaphylaxis did not know they had an allergy. Those people who are severely allergic must use an Auvi-Q or Epi-Pen (epinephrine shot).  I’m not allergic and thank goodness none of my three children are. 

Many bees hibernate, though some, including honeybees, do not, said Scott McArt, a research scientist in the department of entomology at the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Most bee species in northern climates overwinter in dormant stages,” Dr. McArt said. “For example, queen bumblebees will mate in the fall, then crawl into a crevice and overwinter alone, protected from the elements.”

The queens emerge in spring and found new colonies, which are productive through the summer, Dr. McArt said. Then, in the fall, new queens are produced by the colony to find a mate and continue the cycle.

“Honeybees are different,” Dr. McArt said. “The major reason they produce so much honey is so the entire colony can survive through the winter by feeding on it.”

The colony forms itself into a tightly packed ball, he said, “shivering” to produce heat and using the honey for fuel.

“The bees on the outside of the cluster act as insulators,” he said, “while the innermost bees generate the heat. They continually rotate their position, alternating roles as heat producer and recipient.”

Bees play an intricate part in our food system. They are the most popular pollinating insects on earth and without them our food chain will suffer tremendously.  They play a critical role in maintaining our ecosystem and it’s our duty to protect them.    

According to Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA) bees have been dying off in droves around the world since the mid-1990’s. My favorite websites are Take Part and the Center for Food Safety. You could find more information on petitions and other ways you could support protecting bees and other environmental issues that are at risk. 

Let’s work together for a wonderful cause! 


Sources:

The Bee Solution by C. Claiborne from NY Times 

Center For Food and Safety 

Take Part 


 

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