What happens to bees in winter?

Doncaster: 01302 969049
Sheffield: 0114 419 2049
Posted on 7 February 2024

If you have a bee nest in your garden, you may be wondering what happens to bees in winter and how they manage the colder temperatures. The answer isn’t clear-cut since honeybees and bumblebees have different approaches to surviving winter. Whilst honeybees tend to form clusters inside their hives, bumblebees often die off. Read on to learn more about what happens to bees at this time of year.

what happens to bees in winter

HoneybeesHoney Bee Relocation in Doncaster

Honeybees form clusters within their hives during winter, with the colony gathering closely around the queen. To generate heat, the cluster vibrates its flight muscles, helping them to maintain warmth. This behaviour regulates the temperature inside the hive, enabling the colony to survive the cold weather. Additionally, the honeybees stockpile honey during the warmer months, ensuring they have a food source in winter. They also seal the hive with beeswax to conserve heat and prevent cold draughts. 


Most bumblebees die off in winter, with newly mated queens most likely to survive. These queens hibernate in sheltered spots during the colder months and establish new colonies in the spring. There are a number of reasons why the worker bees and males perish during this time of year. 

Primarily, it’s part of their life cycle to do so. Bumblebee colonies have a life cycle where only the newly mated queens hibernate to start new colonies in the following spring. The workers and males are non-reproductive and therefore die off naturally at the end of the summer or fall. Additionally, these bees also have short lifespans, usually lasting only a few months. As the colony reaches the end of its lifecycle, these bees naturally die off.

Solitary bees 

Solitary bees, which live alone rather than in colonies, have a different approach to surviving winter. These bees tend to create nesting holes where they lay eggs and provide pollen to their offspring. Each egg is laid in individual compartments within these holes. These developing bees remain sheltered within these nests, protected from the cold until the warmer temperatures in spring arrive and they can emerge.

Should I remove a bee nest during winter? 

If you’ve found a bee nest on your property, you might be wondering whether to remove it. Now you know what happens to bees in winter, the answer might be clearer to you. Since bees tend to hibernate at this time of year, removing the nest could impact their survival. The hibernating queens or developing bees inside it may end up dying off before spring arrives. With this in mind, it may be best to wait until late spring or summer, when bees are more active, to remove the nest. If you’re not sure how to deal with a bee nest on your property, talk to our team who will be happy to advise you. 

We’ve removed many bee nests over the years, using safe and appropriate methods that avoid causing harm to the bees or their habitat. Waiting until the warmer months allows for a safer removal process that considers the well-being of the bees. 

Honey Bee Removal in DoncasterIs removing a bee nest in winter ever a good idea? 

While it’s generally recommended to avoid disturbing bee nests in winter, there might be specific situations where removal becomes necessary for safety reasons. If the nest poses an immediate threat to human safety or is located in an area where lots of people are present, such as near entrances or pathways, removal might be required. This can help to prevent accidental encounters or stings, which in some cases could prove fatal for individuals who have bee sting allergies. 

We may also recommend removing a bee nest in winter if it is located indoors, such as within the walls of a house or building. This can help to avoid potential conflicts between bees and occupants. If a bee nest is removed in winter, it’s important that this is carried out carefully, ideally by experienced pest controllers. 

How is bee nest removal carried out? 

Bee nest removal involves several steps to ensure the safety of both the bees and the individuals in the vicinity of the nest. At Topline, we’ll start by carefully assessing the nest, including its size, location and the species of the bees. We can then determine the best approach for removal. Before removing the nest, we’ll secure the area around it, preventing accidental contact with the bees. 

We’ll wear all the necessary protective gear, such as suits and veils, in order to minimise the risk of stings. Various methods may be used to remove the nest, including physical relocation, extraction, or chemical treatments. Which we use will depend on factors such as the nest’s size, location and bee species. 

In many cases, especially with honeybees, we’ll aim to relocate the nest rather than exterminate the bees. We’ll carefully transfer the nest to a suitable location, such as a hive box, to allow the bees to continue their activities in a safe environment. In certain situations, the bees may need to be exterminated. This may be the case if relocation isn’t possible or it poses a risk to the bees or surroundings. This is normally a last resort and will always be carried out in compliance with the latest legal regulations.


If you’re still not sure what happens to bees in winter or you want to arrange professional pest control in Doncaster or the surrounding area, give us a call on 01302 969049 or 0114 419 2049. Alternatively, send a message via the contact form on the website and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Our friendly team are on hand to provide you with the advice and guidance that you need.