Conservation // 5 min Read

Bye-Bye Bumblebee

Written by Aaron Palmieri

Nov 25, 2020

October is when we begin to say farewell to the eastern bumblebee buzzing around Palmetto Bluff. All bumblebees in North America form annual colonies which means this year’s queens, along with their workers and sons, will die off as cooler weather approaches. The only bumblebees to survive through the winter will be the new queens, which will emerge from the ground next spring to continue the cycle. These future queens are capable of surviving the cold winter by entering a period of dormancy called diapause. During this state, their metabolic rate decreases, which allows them to survive for extended periods without food. Prior to autumn, female bumblebees prepare for the following year by mating with males from other colonies. The fertilization and embryonic development that would follow is suspended when the females enter diapause. Once spring returns, the queens will emerge to seek out an underground nest site and lay her first eggs, beginning the cycle of bumblebees anew.