The Invercargill Eye - - CONVERSATIONS -

Whereas hon­ey­bees are ac­tive through­out win­ter, keep­ing their hive warm and safe, the bum­ble­bee hi­ber­nates.

The last bum­ble­bee brood of the sum­mer colony con­tains a num­ber of queens. Each of these new-gen­er­a­tion queens mates, be­fore hi­ber­nat­ing un­der­ground over win­ter. In spring she emerges and be­gins look­ing for a new site to start a new colony. The bum­ble­bee nest is de­vel­oped by a sin­gle queen, who lays her eggs and for­ages for food to store for her young. Once hatched, the lar­vae feed on the stored food. After a pe­riod the lar­vae stop feed­ing and pu­pate; about two weeks later, the adult worker emerges. Even­tu­ally, these adults take over the for­ag­ing du­ties from the queen.

A hon­ey­bee hive, on the other hand, can sur­vive many years. Dur­ing win­ter the bees typ­i­cally stay in their hives. Honey stored in the hive dur­ing sum­mer and au­tumn feeds the bees dur­ing the win­ter months.

New Zealand has a num­ber of na­tive bee species. Most lead soli­tary lives and don’t pro­duce honey, but they are good lit­tle pol­li­na­tors and can of­ten be found on na­tive Aster­aceae (such as olearia and senecio), Myr­taceae (rata and manuka), and Fabaceae (kowhai and clianthus), among other plants. Most of our na­tive bees make their nests in holes in tree trunks, soil or sand, with only one fam­ily in each nest. Each fe­male lays three to 10 eggs be­fore dy­ing. Any fe­males from those eggs go on to build their own nests. Our na­tive bees over­win­ter ei­ther as adults or pre­pu­pae.

When hon­ey­bees and bumblebees emerge from their nests or hives as the weather be­comes warmer, it is im­por­tant they find a source of nec­tar and pollen im­me­di­ately. With­out it,

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