Leave the Leaves: Protect the Bees and Good Insects in the Winter
Whether you're an environmentalist or farmer or not, you should be aware of the problem with the bee population. Actually, the problem isn't bees, but humans whose pesticide use and destruction of bee habitats have led to the bee population decline.
According to beekeepingtrove.com, bees are essential to the food supply by pollinating plants. Without bees, many fruits and plants would not produce fruits and vegetables, and there would be food shortages worldwide.
Another factor, besides colony collapse due to pesticides and elimination of natural bee habitats due to land development, is disease.
While not totally understood, beekeepingtrove.com says, "Another factor linked to the decline in bee populations is the varroa mite. This tiny parasitic creature feeds on bees and can spread diseases like deformed wing viruses."
If you take a peak at this video from alchemixer.com, you can learn more about the bee population decline.
So what can we do to help the bee population? Xerces.org says "The vast majority “overwinter,” or spend winter, right where they spent all summer — just less active and more hidden."
This means they hide in fallen leaves to protect themselves from the winter environment. Try not to blow, rake, or mow all of the leaves. Leave some of the leaves for the insects and invertebrates to survive the winter months.
Leaves, hollow stems, and debris create insulation, much like the blankets on your bed.
Bumblebees go underground a few inches for the winter, and may even thrive through the winter in an abandoned rodent hole. Add some leaves over the hole, and the bumblebees have a perfect place to hibernate.
So when you are out raking, throw some leaves in your dried-up garden, or don't rake or mow all of the leaves. The best we can do for the bees and their future is to help them get through the New England winters. That's what we're all trying to do.