Author Gary Taylor ◦
How long do native bees live for, and do they hibernate? Common question, I’ve always said “about four weeks” and “No, not really, well sort of, their pupae can remain kind of dormant, waiting until warmer months to emerge but no, the adults work their guts out for 28 days and die…”
But I gotta say, these next five pics have well and truly challenged my belief and I’d be keen to know if this is not uncommon and perhaps I’ve just never heard or read about it before.
Righto, so the first pic is from a series of pics I put up in a Facebook post back in early April. Meroglossa rubricata, she’d spent a couple of days making a cosy little entrance to her house before having some friends over… hens night… stripper… some of you may remember it… Well it all went quiet after that, after her friends left she pretty much stayed indoors. I saw her pop her head out now and then but that was all.
After awhile she didn’t even poke her head out anymore and I figured she had passed away peacefully in her sleep, about six weeks ago. The 2nd and 3rd pics were taken yesterday (when I say early April, first pic of her was on the 2nd). That’s three months.
Could the original bee have died and could another moved in?
What… And just never came out. Just stayed inside all day doing nothing too? Nope.
Offspring? Nup, too early and the nest was never capped off.
So, I had a look in another hole that also had a rubricata move in, but again it never left the nest, never capped it off, just lazed around watching the world go by (which isn’t unusual for this species). That’s her in the fourth pic, used in a post I put on back in March, and although the pic was taken on the 4th of March, that was just the first time she didn’t pull back into her hole when I got close with the camera… she’d been there a few days.
Like the other rubricata, she used to pop her head out now and then and see what I was up to, then one day just stopped coming out. Her house faces east, so in the morning light I could just see her tucked down the hole a little way and like the other one, I’d guessed she’d died. I actually considered trying to drag her out with a thin stick to set her in resin, but thought she’d be a bit too dry and brittle by now.
Anyway, morning light and I can just see she’s still in there, same spot she’s been for months, so I lined up where she was with the outside of the timber she’s in and gave it a good hard flick with my finger nail, THWACK! and stuff me she moved, just about shat herself actually, sorry girl, didn’t think you were still alive…
After initially darting backwards she came forward a bit, not right to the opening but to where I could see her clearly enough to see she was mad at me, calling me all sorts of nasty words (fifth pic).
Again sorry girl, if I’d known you were capable of living for over 120 days I wouldn’t have done it, honestly… So, how long do native bees live for and do they hibernate?