The Changing Seasons - How Do They Affect the Bees?
Similar to other animals, changing seasons usually have an impact on bees' life cycles and
development. The functions of workers will change, depending on the needs of the hive. There are some unique
effects that only occur among bees. You can appreciate these insects more and learn how some species can thrive
better in certain climates compared to others. Temperature and weather can lead to changes to the colonies.
About Bees and Flowers
Some kinds of flowers only bloom during certain seasons of the year. For instance, the Ceanothus species blooms
during spring. Cosmos and sunflowers bloom during summer. The same kind of seasonal activity applies to bees. Some
activities are done only during spring, some during summer and others before full autumn. The seasonal patterns of
flowers and bees are highly related because bees are the biggest pollinators in the world. Bees ensure that they
wake up right on time after hibernating during winter to gather pollen and nectar. Plants are scheduled to bloom as
the bees emerge to pollinate and reproduce.
During spring, two categories of bees are usually found going to different spring flowers. The megachilid and
andrenid bees are known to visit California poppies during spring. These two groups are unavailable after July 1.
Bumble bees are another type known to emerge during spring.
In the Summer
Other megachilid species belonging to the non-Osmia group can be seen going to urban gardens. A number of the
species go to different kinds of flowers. An identifying mark is their black and white banded abdomens. The Osmia
group that appears during spring have shiny blue and green abdomens. Both male and female Melissodes bees appear
during summer up to early fall. Female Melissodes bees are characterized by their round, stocky and hairy bodies.
These usually frequent sunflowers and Cosmos to gather pollen and nectar. Male Melissodes have long and wiry bodies
with very long antennae. The males visit flowers to gather nectar.
The Agapostemon texana bee is known to appear anywhere between summer and early fall. The colors between male
and female usually differ. Females usually have a bright metallic green abdomen and thorax, while males have a
striped yellow and black abdomen and a metallic green thorax. These bees visit gum weed and cosmos.
Bees try to gather as much nectar as they can to feed growing larvae and prepare for the winter months. During
winter, they can huddle together to produce more heat for the larva. Bees generally hibernate during winter and
wait until spring comes in again.
Exotic honey bees are usually available year round on different flowers and plants. Honey bees, just like native
California bees, have their favorite flowers. Observing the bees will help you determine the right plants to put
during certain periods of the year.
The Swarming Season
When temperatures start to get warm, activities of bees increase as they get ready for the abundant nectars of
spring. The bees will start to grow their population to have enough worker bees to gather pollen and nectar.
Individual hives may become overcrowded leading to the phenomenon known as swarming season.
Swarming is a stage of the reproductive cycle of honey bees. New colonies can be created because of swarming,
which involves the production of a new queen for individual colonies. Worker bees look for more appropriate places
to begin a new hive. They will scout for good sites like hollow trees.
Swarms can stay in a swarming site anywhere between a few minutes up to several days. The bees are usually not
aggressive since they have no hive to defend. Swarming season can start during late spring up to early summer. New
hives can differ in size. Beekeepers can professionally move new hives to better locations, especially if these
pose danger and threats to the community.
Swarms are endangered because of the wide use of pesticides and insecticides. There are certain ill effects to
the environment such as a very slow or almost non-existent pollination season. The lack of pollination in areas can
be explained by the low population count of bees, as well as the transfer of colonies and hives to new locations
because of different environmental threats.