If you have a garden there is one thing you think you have to do to prepare for winter: Pull out the plants that aren’t coming back. If you love doing this, I have bad news for you. If you hate doing this, I have fantastic news for you.
Let’s start with bees. I know I didn’t mention them before this, but bare with me here. Bees hibernate during our cooler seasons. They do it in a variety of ways. In the case of honey bees, males (drones) die, but the queen and female workers huddle together in the hive or nest until the weather is warm again. Sorry, gentleman! Bumblebees are similar, but only the queen survives. She hibernates and emerges again the following year to establish her kingdom. Solitary bees, however, depend on the species. Some species winter as adults, and others as larvae. What does this have to do with my gardening friends? Solitary bees like to hibernate in the ground or in hollow stems! I know this seems hard to imagine with flower and plant stems being so incredibly tiny, but some solitary bees are very tiny. At the very least, your stems might be large enough for the larvae.
Bee populations are dwindling and this little bit of procrastination is a simple way of giving them a bit of a chance for our Michigan winters. If you’re concerned about bee stings here is a few facts for you.
Not all bees can sting! Usually, they will only sting if they are provoked or feel threatened. Bees are generally non-aggressive. Stings from solitary bees are rare for most species. Unless a person has a bee sting allergy, the average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight.
Give our bees a chance this winter, and leave that last part of gardening for spring.
If you wish to find out more about our bees go to: www.buzzaboutbees.net
Contributed by Brooke Mellema, Land Stewardship Intern at Blandford Nature Center.