Social bees, such as bumblebees and honeybees, have lives - and winter habits - that revolve around their hive and queen. In early summer they live in a nest made up of a queen bee and female worker bees. As summer progresses, the queen lays eggs which produce a new generation of queen bees and male bees.
The colony eventually leaves the nest and mates, with the young queens gorging on nectar and pollen to build up fat in their bodies. Eventually, the new queens hibernate alone underground, with their vital fat stores helping them survive through the winter.
The rest of the nest - including the old queen, the male bees and the female worker bees - falls away with the leaves, dying out through autumn.
Come the spring, the warmer temperatures wake the queens from their hibernation and they’ll seek nectar to feed on before finding a suitable nest site for the year. Having already mated before they hibernated, they will lay their first brood of eggs in early summer, which will produce female worker bees. The lifecycle is complete.
Because spring temperatures influence when hibernating bees wake up, it makes them a good species to observe for Nature’s Calendar.