In the autumn, you might come across some solitary bees and wasps flying around. Maybe a lone bald-faced hornet, or a yellowjacket. Or even a fuzzy bumblebee. These are the queen bees and wasps, the only members of their colonies to live through the winter. While you are watching, the queens are searching for a place to hibernate. Can you find where they finally settle?
What has happened to all the other bees and wasps? The details vary somewhat from species to species, but generally the female workers and the male drones all die in the fall. (The drones first mate with the queens). The following spring, the queens will come out of hibernation and look for a place to lay the eggs that will become the next generation of workers and drones.
Honeybees are the only bees that remain active year-round. Their winter habits are somewhat different.
Bald-faced hornets and bumblebees hibernate underground. Polistes wasps frequently spend the winter within the walls of old houses.
[Image: Courtesy of Flickr user milesizz]