Know your honey
In the earlier parts of spring you’ll find enormous bumblebees out foraging for nectar and pollen. Did your enthusiasm for the lack of snow somehow cause spring hallucinations of thumb sized bees? Thankfully this isn’t one of the effects of cabin fever.
As mentioned in a previous post about winter the honeybee is the only insect that stays active all winter (in the temperate climate zone). Bumblebees hibernate but more significantly it is only queen bumblebees that hibernate and survive to see spring.
When a queen bumblebee emerges in the spring she must forage for her own food and find and prepare a new nest. She makes her own little wax pots and lays eggs which will grow into the smaller sized worker bumblebees that we are used to seeing on our flowers. These worker bees then forage, feed and care for the queen and the eggs she lays.
Bumblebees forage for nectar and pollen much like honeybees do but they don’t store it in the same kinds of quantities. They keep a stash in little wax pots (instead of hexagonal shaped comb) that will get them through wet weather or nectar droughts but they don’t store nearly enough to get them through a winter.
When summer weather gives way to hints of fall the queen lays other queen bees which will go out on mating flights to become inseminated by drones. You can find them sometimes hanging off tall grasses (the thumb sized bumblebee is the queen and the little bees hanging off of her are the drones).
When winter arrives fertile queen bumblebees find a sheltered place to hibernate (a.k.a. enter diapause) but worker bees and drones simply die.
Aren’t you glad you’re not a bee?