Knowledge from Olle Garden Bed: Winter Pollinators: What Bees, Insects And Butterflies Do In Winter

Have you ever thought about what happens to your favorite pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, in winter? Once the temperature gets cold, the snow starts to dance. Where are the pollinating insects? More importantly, what can gardeners do to help these beneficial insects survive in the harsh climate? The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

raised garden bed

Pollination Media and Winter Survival

Most likely, you won't see pollinators in the cold winter. Where they go and how they survive in the cold are often species specific. In general, pollinated invertebrates have adapted several methods to survive in harsh winter weather.

When we think of pollinators, we often think of bees. In order to spend the winter, these honeycomb residents embrace and vibrate their bodies to generate heat. In addition to an adequate supply of honey, a special generation of bees is needed in winter to maintain the hive. These winter bees have fuller bodies and live longer than those that inhabit their hives in summer.

Bumblebee's method is slightly different. Except for the queen bee, the whole hive dies in autumn. Adult queens hibernate underground, usually in rodent burrows. They appear in the spring and restart their colonies by laying eggs.

In contrast, many species of solitary native bees overwinter in the form of pupae. Some of these bees hibernate underground, or they pupate closer to the surface by burrowing into fallen leaves. Others live by living in hollow stems or holes formed by wood drilling insects.

raised garden bed

How butterflies overwinter

Like swallows, birds and orioles, some kinds of butterflies migrate to warm climates in winter. The most famous is the monarch, who can travel 3000 miles to live in Mexico in winter.

However, not all Lepidoptera migratory species move southward in autumn. The colorful lady butterfly population that overwinters in a warm climate migrates northward in spring, but the northern population is extinct in autumn, rather than returning.

Most butterfly and moth species do not migrate, but spend the winter by entering diapause. This period of dormancy is often referred to as butterfly hibernation. In this state, they can overwinter in one of the four life stages.

Which stage depends on the type of butterfly or moth. For example, the copper butterfly treats the overwintering butterfly as an egg, while the Baltimore chessboard worm lives as a caterpillar. The moon moth and swallowtail butterfly overwinter as pupae.

The mourning cloaked butterfly is often called a harbinger of spring, and it survives in winter after adulthood. They used this butterfly wintering technique to replace water in their bodies with compounds similar to antifreeze. You may even see them on a sunny winter day, feeding on sap.

Protect butterflies, moths and bees in winter

The primitive, leafless yard that the homeowner likes is the bane of the overwintering pollinators. Clearing fallen leaves, pulling up dead annual plants and rotation before winter disturbed many places where pollinators overwinter.

Does this mean that gardeners should make a mess of the yard until spring? Not necessarily, but it can be considered to leave some undisturbed areas in winter to shelter butterflies, moths and bees. Here are some ideas you can try:

Gently collect fallen leaves and spread them 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) high on the garden bed.

Keep your home's containment appeal by cleaning only the front yard and keeping the back yard undisturbed.

raised garden beds

Wait until spring to trim perennial stems and remove dead annual plants. They may even spice up the garden in winter.

Don't disturb the bare soil in autumn. It was replaced by the late spring rotation after the emergence of hibernating bees.

Are you worried that your neighbors may not appreciate your media protection work? Consider printing a sign to inform others of your intentions. Who knows? Maybe they will follow your footsteps!