Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sleeping Bees

Maybe it's just my imagination, but cooler weather seems to have a somnolent affect on bees. All summer, bees buzz madly in our garden. We've watched carpenters bees drill holes in our wood fence, bumbles zip in and out of marigolds, and tiny green "sweat bees" sucking nectar from flowering herbs. Most vacated the garden with the decline of our flowering plants; but some very tired troops remain. They buzz here and there half-heartedly sucking at the zinnias and aster. Mostly, they seems to be napping!

Ever wonder where insects go in winter? After all, they can't sleep in flowers much longer. Monarch, fritillary, and painted lady butterflies hibernate or migrate to warmer climes. Dragonflies also leave town. Communal insects, such as ants and termites head below ground, where their extensive nests provide food and shelter.  Bees cluster in their colonies and survive on each other's body heat. The nectar they've been sipping all summer acts an anti-freeze to keep them warm. When sunnier days return in spring, they're back at work, letting us know its time to replenish their food supply - and get to work in our gardens. Who's in charge here?

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