As summer draws to an end and the trees begin to shed their leaves, there’s really no denying that autumn is finally on its way. This is a special time for us here at Hilltop, so we thought we’d share with you some pretty bee-brilliant facts about our little buzzy friends at this time of year. Autumn is actually another very busy time for bees- read on to find out what they get up to and how we can all help to lighten the load just a little.
Why we love Autumn
It’s no secret that we love a change of season here at Hilltop, and autumn almost certainly deserves a special little celebration each time it rolls around. There’s just something about the rich, golden colours of the leaves that fall, and being wrapped up warm and cosy after what has- this year, anyway- seemed like an impossibly long summer. But how do our precious buzzy friends fare at this time of year?
Busy, busy, busy
As expected, our hard-working companions take their autumn duties very seriously, and at this time of year they’re busy preparing for winter. During the colder months, its harder for them to find food, so they actually spend time hibernating instead. Autumn is a crucial time for bees, if they want to survive the low temperatures that winter will bring.
During the next couple of months, worker bees will switch roles slightly, gaining as much weight as they can so that they can stay warm. They actually have a fat gene that is activated- how cool is that?
At this time, the worker bees have another important role to play- they kick the drone bees out of the hive! Drone bees have a responsibility to mate with the queen bee, but during winter the queen won’t be reproducing as much, so they’re just not needed in the hive. By October, the majority of remaining bees will be inside the hive, preparing for winter.
What do bees have to prepare for?
Winter is a time of rest for bees- they just wouldn’t survive the cold weather, and only ever venture outside if its a particularly mild day. There is also very little food out there for them during the winter months, so it makes sense for them to stay inside the hive and wait it out.
During this season, bees huddle together to stay warm, using their wings to generate heat for each other. They feed on whatever they’ve collected during the autumn months, so without the vital work they do in preparation, winter really does have the potential to kill.
How do beekeepers help?
We don’t have to leave it all up to the bees, of course. Beekeepers are just as busy during the autumn months, and this is a crucial time for us too.
As soon as the nights begin to draw in and bees begin their important work in preparation for winter, beekeepers will provide food for energy to the bees, to help them out a little in their quest to gather as much as possible. If there is surplus honey in the hive it’s removed, making sure to leave plenty for the bees to use for themselves.
Beekeepers are also essential in ensuring the hive is protected from predators, so that the bees are safe to make it through to spring.
How you can help bees this autumn
As always, bees need our help during the autumn months, and there are plenty of ways that you can do this.
- Create a be friendly garden so that when they’re on the hunt for food to store for winter, it’s there for them to forage.
- Prepare your garden for winter by removing any leftover plants that have now finished growing.
- Remove canes or other plant supports.
- Clear leaves from walk-ways but make sure to leave as many as you can (wildlife love fallen leaves and the same goes for log piles too).
- Let your grass grow a little longer and make sure you use long blades for the last cut of the season.
- Plant spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils and crocuses (this will provide early nectar for bees).
More reasons to love autumn… food!
Finally, we thought we’d leave you with some of our very favourite autumn recipes, just to get you in the mood and ready for some cosy evenings in! First up, we recommend our amazing Manuka & Turmeric Spiced Latte for the ultimate, decadent treat. Perfect for an afternoon pick me up, or a right-before-bed ritual.
We also love our gorgeous Cinder Toffee Apples (great treat as Bonfire Night approaches!) and our Honey & Cinnamon cookies are just wonderful with a nice cup of tea this time of year too. Let us know if you try any of these autumnal delights!