Autumn and what now?

CiaCia Posts: 154

Im on the lookout for Helebores for my garden. I believe Helebores are a welcomeing food source in spring for the bees. Does anyone else know of this? And can you think of anyother plant that would be beneficial for the insect world through those cold and damp months we call winter?

 This is fascinating reading i got from the internet this morning.

Honeybees have a very interesting method of winter survival. Honeybees stop flying when the weather drops below 50 degrees. When the temperature drops below that, the bees all crowd into the lower central area of the hive and form a "winter cluster." The worker bees huddle around the queen bee at the center of the cluster, shivering in order to keep the center around 80 degrees. The worker bees rotate through the cluster from the outside to the inside so that no bee gets too cold. The outside edges of the cluster stay at about 46-48 degrees. The colder the weather is outside, the more compact the cluster becomes .

Hibernating honeybees have been studied and shown to consume up to 30 pounds of stored honey during the winter months, which helps the bees produce body heat. Heat energy is produced by the oxidation of the honey, and circulated throughout the hive by the wing-fanning of worker bees . Note the diagram at right.

On warmer days, bees will venture out for short flights to eliminate body waste. The flights do not last long nor do the bees travel very far because if their body gets too cold they might not be able to return to the hive .



  • kate1123kate1123 Posts: 2,815

    I am not a bee expert but I have noticed some bees spend a lot of time on our Mahonia during the winter. I had assumed that they were not honeybees as they seem to be living in a tiled wall next to the mahonia.

    I thought that for a wildlife friendly garden you need a variety of plants that flowered from autumn to spring.

  • Hi everyone.

    We have quite a lot of fences with ivy growing up them. The bees absolutely love the flowers which last well into the winter.


  • lovetogarden wrote (see)

    We have quite a lot of fences with ivy growing up them. The bees absolutely love the flowers which last well into the winter.

    Ivy is good. I've seen bees on ivy flowers, with snow on the ground, in the first week of January.

  • CiaCia Posts: 154

    Oh good -  i have ivy - who dosnt image

    Mahonia now thiers a plant. I had one in my previous garden.


    Thank you for your responses.



  • LilylouiseLilylouise Posts: 1,014

    Sarcoccoca and Chimonanthes are great in the early part of the year - I had Bumble Bees visiting in late Jan/early Feb this year image

    Pam LL x

  • Jean GenieJean Genie Posts: 1,724

    I noticed a few bees crawling into cracks in the brickwork early Spring. Not sure why.

  • CiaCia Posts: 154

    MMM anyone know why!

  • CiaCia Posts: 154

    Sarcoccoca and Chimonanthes - i have not heard these plants before. They look very delicate. I will keep amy open for them. Thank you lilylouise.

  • I've got a Vibernum bodnantense Dawn which flowers from now until late spring and winter jasmine.  The Daphne family also flower in the winter but I can't get it to grow in our garden of kent clay.  Also winter pansies, cyclamen, primulas and early bulbs.  You can also put out saucers of sugar water if you see bees around.


  • We also have bees in our brickwork in spring, I think they are a solitary bee as they are not a honey bee.  I'll look more closely this spring!

  • Great news about the Ivy- last year the blackbirds adored the berries, some are starting to form now.

    I've been growing a lot of annuals with a long flowering peroid such as snapdragons, rudebekias, cosmos & scabious. Time will tell but these are meant to flower until oct depending on where you live. Saw a large butterfly on the rudebekias this morning and the snapdragons have provided a big hit with the bumblies........they love them.

    I've seen bees on  the cyclamen which have a real long flowering peroid through out the autumn & winter. Early flowering spring bulbs seem to attract them as well, snowdrops & crocus

  • CiaCia Posts: 154

    Wow off to garden centre tomorrow - may need a trolley.image

    The forums to blame if im skint next week.image

  • Hi cia- all the annual plants that I have mentioned are easy to grow from seed. I sowed these plants earlier this year. I very rarely buy from garden centres etc and if I do they are always are on the reduced/rescue area. If you have a little time and some where with warmth/light/space you can grow from seed and it is so easy........ and cheapimage

    I should add some patience as well

  • joslowjoslow Posts: 219

    How do Itell the difference between solitary bees and honey bees?  I often see bees on my plants in the winter but cannot see a nest/hive for them and I worry.

  • CiaCia Posts: 154

    Yes garden centres are expensive. I will try to save my purse and get sowing.

  • Caz WCaz W Posts: 1,353

    Fatsia Japonica  (grown for its foliage) has clusters of small cream flowers late in the year around November and ours is always full of buzzing insects!

  • CiaCia Posts: 154

    Oh really - i love their large foliage too - kind of like mini umbrellas image

  • Hi Cia

    Interesting article about the bees.I kept honeybees for many years but became allergic to the stings, loved it, fascinating hobby. Ivy flowers are about the last for the year, along with rosebay willow herb and the sedums. Fried egg plants from seed in spring drive bees to delirium, they love them. Spring crocus and snowdrops provide pollen for bumble bee rearing. Perennial geranium is another favourite with honeybees. Beg from friends Cia, more fun and cheaper.

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