Do Bees Hibernate?

How Bees Survive the Cold Season

A group of worker bees
A group of worker bees. Credit: Todd Huffman/Wikimedia Commons

As the leaves turn golden and fall to the ground, and the temperature dips down, we often find ourselves cuddling up inside to keep warm. But what do bees do? Do they simply curl up in their hives and hibernate through the winter like some animals do? Let’s dive into the world of bees and find out how these tiny creatures survive the harsh winter.


First, let’s clarify what hibernation is. Hibernation is a state of inactivity in animals during the winter months, where their body temperature drops to conserve energy. Bears, bats, and hedgehogs are some of the animals that hibernate during winter.


But bees have a different approach. Bees are a bit like the postman; neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep them from their duties. Their responsibilities include keeping the hive warm, protecting the queen bee, and gathering food for winter. So, how do they survive in the cold?


One of the ways bees survive the winter is by clustering together inside their hive. The bees gather around their queen and vibrate their wings to generate heat, much like how we rub our hands together to warm them up. This creates a cozy environment, with the temperature at the center of the cluster ranging from 27–32°C (81–90°F) while the outer edges of the cluster can be as low as 8°C (46°F).

Cluster of honey bees
Cluster of honey bees. Credit: Chas Redmond/Wikimedia Commons

However, not all bees have the same strategy for winter survival. Bumble bees, for instance, have a very different approach to the winter months. Unlike honey bees, bumble bees do not have a large colony of bees to keep each other warm. Instead, the queen bumble bee hibernates during the winter, while the rest of the colony dies off. But before they do, the queen prepares to lay eggs that will hatch in the spring, ensuring the continuation of their colony.


But what about solitary bees , such as mason bees and leafcutter bees? Do they hibernate too? Solitary bees do not have a colony to keep them warm, so they need to find their own shelter. Some solitary bees, such as mason bees, create nests in holes in wood or in the ground, where they spend the winter as pupae . Other solitary bees, such as leafcutter bees, hibernate as adults in small tunnels or cracks in wood, where they can survive the winter months.


In conclusion, bees have remarkable ways of surviving the winter months. While they don’t hibernate like other animals, they have developed unique strategies to keep themselves warm and to prevent freezing. So, the next time you see a busy bee buzzing around, you can appreciate just how hard they work to survive the winter months.


Solitary bees: A type of bee that does not live in colonies like honey bees, but instead lives alone or in small groups. They do not produce honey and are typically less aggressive than social bees.


Pupae: The life stage of an insect after it has completed its larval stage and before it emerges as an adult. During this stage, the insect undergoes metamorphosis and transforms into its adult form.

Flesch Grade Level: 8


Flesch Reading Ease: 66.2


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