Keeping the hive running is a year-round business for bees — even during the winter, when no nectar-producing flowers are in bloom.
For the most part, bees won’t leave the nest when the temperature plunges and rely on their stockpiles to stay alive, but you may see a few flying around on warmer winter days. As autumn wanes into winter, you can turn your yard into a protective haven for bees, butterflies, and other important pollinators to help them see another spring.
The University of New Hampshire Agriculture Extension advises conscientious gardeners not to discard or compost piles of raked leaves and instead use them as mulch or just leave them in a pile. The leaves provide excellent cover for insects over the winter, including moth and butterfly cocoons. Spread the leaves about two inches high on all your garden beds and overlay with branches to keep the leaves in place.
Gardeners can also leave dead annuals and perennials in place instead of pulling them. The dead stalks trap additional leaves, which enhances the mulch.
If you see areas of bare soil, leave them alone — the soil may be shielding underground bumblebee nests. Dead logs are also commonly used as winter shelters for some bee species.