Cover for bees

bumble bee sleeping ©Janet AllenBumble bee sleeping

We try to provide safe places for pollinators (and other insects) winter, spring, summer, and fall.

In the summer, bees apparently spend their nights under flower heads or leaves.

bumble bee getting out of the rain ©Janet AllenBumble bee protected from the rain

This bumble bee is getting some protection from the rain.

But when insects are in diapause (a state something like hibernation), they need other sources of cover.

This happens during the winter in our region. They can overwinter as adults (as do bumble bee queens) or in other stages such as pupae, like do some solitary bees.

In old plant stems

Coneflowers in winter ©Janet AllenConeflowers in winter

I leave most plants standing in winter. This provides seeds for birds and probably other little creatures, but it also provides a place for insects to overwinter.

Although eliminating places for insects is part of the reason many people "clean up" their yards in the fall, as Eric Grissell says in his book Insects and Gardens, if you don't leave a place for the "bad" things to overwinter, you're also not leaving a place for the "good" things to overwinter … like our pollinators.

In bare ground

HedgerowEnlarge ©Janet Allen
Hedgerow with some bare ground

Our hedgerow along the street is full of shrubs and perennials, but there's plenty of bare ground for overwintering bees.

A bonus is that it's a north-facing slope. I've read that bumble bee queens prefer these colder, snowier slopes since they won't be tricked into emerging in the spring before nectar and pollen are available.

Hedgerow in winterEnlarge ©Janet Allen
Hedgerow in winter

Under all this snow, I'm sure there are bumble bee queens awaiting spring. They certainly won't emerge too early in the spring!

Our slope (along the fence next to the road) is not only one of the last places in our yard to be snow-free, it's one of the last places in the whole neighborhood to melt, especially since the plows pile up the snow.