Sun. May 28th, 2023
bee on flower

Though we crave the end of long winters, global warming is leading to warmer earlier Springs, and this creates havoc for the bee populations around the world.

By | Connie Xie

After winter, many beekeepers open up their hives only to find a dead colony. Unfortunate, but not uncommon. Bee colonies have a risk of not making it through the winter. Those who do survive, are now faced with a new challenge, early spring. The month of March began with bursts of flowers and warm weather. With the signs of early spring, many pollinators begin to emerge from their winter hibernation and venture out to find food for their colonies. Unfortunately, Spring seems to arrive earlier and warmer with climate change than the year before, and this is bad news for the pollinators.

The early spring flowers (though pretty) oftentimes are not a sufficient supply of nectar for all the pollinators. As we know, the life span of the early spring flowers is no more than two weeks. Their short lifespan leaves the pollinators at a loss and at risk of a starving colony. Many pollinators will mistake the warmer weather for actual spring and wake from their hibernation early. However, once outside, the pollinators will quickly realize that the food supply is not enough. Once strong and healthy colonies might reduce to a couple of pollinators. The dead bees will fall to the bottom of the hive and some bees will crawl into a cell before dying; the remaining bees huddle together, the Queen usually presumed dead, as they await the end of their colony. A once-massive colony is gone. 

crop farmer taking honeycomb from beehive
Photo by Anete Lusina on

Such sights are not uncommon for a beekeeper, especially an inattentive one who assumes that once early spring flowers have bloomed, the bees are able to support themselves. Do not be mistaken by the false signs of spring! Actual spring does not arrive until the end of March and even mid-April. 

The solution to this problem is to plant early spring flowers that can provide a sufficient food supply for pollinators (not just the bees). This way, the flowers you plant in your garden will help the pollinators survive the tough process of early spring. Flowers such as the dandelions, crocus, Malus Domestica (the apple tree), bluebell, and primrose are excellent choices for pollinators.

Do your part in helping the bees by creating a bee garden and spreading the word about such problems. The solutions are easy, all they need is a little help from humans. 

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