Bees: Hibernation and Estivation

It’s springtime now and you’ve probably noticed that, along with flowers and the warmer weather, bees are back as well. Ever wonder where those bees spent the winter? I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

“For about ten months out of the year, that bee does nothing but sit fully fed as a larva in the ground. It’s active for, at most, two months. Partly as an adult and partly as a feeding, immature stage, but for the rest of the year it’s hibernating and estivating. Estivating meaning spending the dry part of the year doing nothing.”

Jerome Rozen is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History.

“This fact that bees can spend long periods of time doing nothing in the ground is one reason why bees are so abundant in the arid southwest. Because they can be flying around when the flowers are in bloom and then when it’s dry, and it gets terribly dry in the deserts, why they, they have no requirements.”

This is probably why you can find bees in virtually every part of the world and in such great numbers. But interestingly enough, not all bees come out of hibernation at the same time.

“Bees are often times tied into very specific kinds of plants. So that the bees that go to maples, will fly in the early spring when the maples bloom. But the bees that pollinate things like blueberries will come out a little bit later and things that pollinate squashes and gourds will come out much later in the season, because these plants bloom later.”

And with some 21,000 species of bees in the world, it’s a good thing that different species often specialize in pollinating different flowers.

For transcripts of this program and others, please visit our website at . Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series is provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Bees: Hibernation and Estivation

Bees hibernate during the winter and time their emergence to coincide with that of their favorite flower.
Air Date:05/20/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

It's springtime now and you've probably noticed that, along with flowers and the warmer weather, bees are back as well. Ever wonder where those bees spent the winter? I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

"For about ten months out of the year, that bee does nothing but sit fully fed as a larva in the ground. It's active for, at most, two months. Partly as an adult and partly as a feeding, immature stage, but for the rest of the year it's hibernating and estivating. Estivating meaning spending the dry part of the year doing nothing."

Jerome Rozen is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History.

"This fact that bees can spend long periods of time doing nothing in the ground is one reason why bees are so abundant in the arid southwest. Because they can be flying around when the flowers are in bloom and then when it's dry, and it gets terribly dry in the deserts, why they, they have no requirements."

This is probably why you can find bees in virtually every part of the world and in such great numbers. But interestingly enough, not all bees come out of hibernation at the same time.

"Bees are often times tied into very specific kinds of plants. So that the bees that go to maples, will fly in the early spring when the maples bloom. But the bees that pollinate things like blueberries will come out a little bit later and things that pollinate squashes and gourds will come out much later in the season, because these plants bloom later."

And with some 21,000 species of bees in the world, it's a good thing that different species often specialize in pollinating different flowers.

For transcripts of this program and others, please visit our website at . Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series is provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.