Spotlight | The sleeping habits of solitary bees

30th November 2023
by Peter Morton

I always find it a delight to see bees sleeping in flowers, and the reason behind this behaviour is so interesting.

The honey bee is well known for dwelling in hives, whether it is in a beekeepers box or a cavity in a tree. It’s a designated place to call home; a place to spend their nights and to shelter. It’s much the same for bumble bees, which will occupy old burrows & cavities. This gives the bees somewhere to return to with a purpose.

Solitary bees on the other hand can emerge in spring from a burrow or hole that was built by their mother the previous year, or they may even hatch in the summer they were laid. Once emerged, the young bees find themselves out in the wide world, eager to complete their cycle and face any challenges laid out before them. The females will begin to search for suitable nesting locations and the males will spend all day searching for a mate. Once dusk rolls around and these daytime pollinators begin to grow weary, they prefer nothing more than a blanket of petals and a cup full of nectar ready for them to sip in the morning.

But there’s another reason for this behaviour. Males will strategically place themselves where the females will frequent. Often groups of males can be seen exhibiting this behaviour, sometimes in large gatherings known as leks, in and around favoured forage plants.

The best time to observe them is on a summers day where rain has delayed their mornings activities. Roaming males and females that have yet to make a home will often be seen in the flowers grooming themselves, filling up on nectar or just outright asleep waiting for the weather to become more favourable.

25th July 2023
by Pete Morton