Bee houses for winter

Asked December 16, 2019, 9:30 AM EST

Do you have a publication on how to set up bee houses to overwinter bees in our area?

St. Mary's County Maryland

3 Responses

While we don't have a publication specific to providing for overwintering bees in Maryland, there are several resources for learning how to provide nesting habitat for various native bees. Some of our native bees overwinter not as adults but as pupae, secured in the nests they spent the summer in; they will emerge as adults in spring. Other helpful gardening practices include leaving fallen leaves in place (where possible), not cutting-back stems on perennials until spring (some bees use the hollow stems for shelter), and even leaving a few bare patches of soil for ground-nesting bees, who sometimes will not use ground covered in plants (it depends on the species).

The Xerces Society has this publication on bee nest boxes: http://www.xerces.org/sites/default/files/2018-05/12-015_02_XercesSoc_Nests-for-Native-Bees-fact-sheet_web.pdf

The University of New Hampshire has this article on overwintering pollinators in general, though it does mention a bit of bee information: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/how-help-bees-and-butterflies-survive-winter

In general, if they have their preferred habitat for the rest of the year and it remains unchanged in winter, they will likely continue to use the same resources available to them without the need for added help. Maintaining an ideal habitat is perhaps the greater long-term goal, and actions to help our wild bees prosper and encouraging them to stay in our gardens include using a diverse range of flowering plants (ideally native species) and minimizing pesticide use, in addition to the habitat preservation mentioned above.

Miri

This is perfect. Thank you!