ST. CLOUD, Minn. — When many of us think of autumn we think of leaves changing, cooler weather, and everything covered in pumpkin spice. Few remember to ask “but what about the bees”? How do honeybees fuel up for the chilly weather ahead and what can any Minnesota resident do to help them out? Dr. Katie Lee shared some tips on helping the tiniest livestock.
Dr. Katie Lee is the University of Minnesota Extension Educator in Apiculture, where she supports the needs of beekeepers across the state of Minnesota. She is also a researcher on the Minnesota Agriculture for Pollinators Project (MAPP). As the go-to Extension person for bees in Minnesota, she shared that currently honeybees are foraging for the last bits of food on the landscape. Dr. Lee shared “Honeybee’s biology really depends on the food available to them. They get pollen and nectar from flowers out there. Pollen is their protein source; nectar is their carbohydrate source”. Bees bring what they forage back to the nest and store it up for winter.
This late in the growing season, many of us see bees visiting plants such as goldenrod and asters, gathering up just a little more food before winter. According to Dr. Lee, when planting to support bee populations, there is significant value in planting a pollinator garden that contains blooms year-round. Not only is it beautiful, but it acts as food source for all types of pollinators, especially as they prepare for winter.
Within the hive, the queen’s egg laying is really slowing down as winter approaches. The last few eggs she is laying are referred to as winter bees, capable of making it through the entire winter (summer bees only last 4-6 weeks). These are the bees that will survive on stored honey produced this past season.
The information for the above article was from an interview with Dr. Lee by Dana Adams on September 21, 2021. Residents of Stearns, Benton, and Morrison counties can direct questions to either my email (email@example.com) or call my desk phone at (320) 255-6169 x 3.
— Dana Adams, University of Minnesota Extension
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