Ahhh, here comes Fall with its brilliant flaming colours, brisk nights, and the pressing need for us to remove dead leaves and branches before the harsh, cold winter sets upon us.
However, as you stomp through your yard like King Kong completing some of your simple Fall tasks, you are unwittingly destroying baby bees and their homes.
But really, what does it matter if we kill a few insects? How could that possibly hurt us??
Did you know that BEES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR AT LEAST 1 IN 3 BITES WE EAT! Killing them is harming ourselves. Taking it easy in the yard this Fall may actually mean more food next summer.
While honeybees live in hives of 40,000-60,000 bees and overwinter in a hollow cavity (eating their yummy honey), most bees are solitary and lay their eggs underground or in the hollows of branches. Even the lovable bumblebee queen will burrow into the ground in the Fall and emerge next spring to start an entirely new colony.
Those bees will fly far (some up to 5 km away) to pollinate flowers and food, ensuring the survival of our species.
Here are a few tips you can use to help the bees:
1. WAIT TO TRIM UNTIL SPRING: Hollow stems, such as raspberry canes, are homes to solitary baby bees. Leaving those stems in place until the weather warms up next Spring will allow them to grow into adult bees. If you need to remove the stems, piling them is an alternative. Most bees will have emerged by mid May.
2. RAKE GENTLY OR NOT AT ALL: The queen bumblebee will dig a tunnel to hibernate through winter, anywhere from 2-15 cm deep in the ground. When raking, it is easy to disturb these tunnels or the queen herself. Leaving a layer of leaves above provides some insulation and will provide great nutrients for your soil. However, if you feel the need to rake, please do so gently as to not disturb the hibernating queen bumblebees.
3. ROTOTILLING-NO THANKS: Many solitary bees dig tunnels in the earth and put their babies there to overwinter. They will never see their babies as the adults die each year, but they have ensured their survival by putting them into little “rooms” in the earth with enough food to hold them over until Spring. Rototilling or shoveling the dirt will destroy these babies and their homes. Again, wait for warmer temperatures before doing this chore.
4. MAKE BEE HOMES: You can create bee houses or buy them. Different types of bees, such as leaf cutters and mason bees will appreciate their new home and you’ll be able to enjoy watching the bees!
Take this Fall to go for beautiful hikes, enjoy yourself by the fire and sip on a hot drink engaging with family and friends. Relax, it’s good for you…..and the bees!