Nature on our doorsteps - Autumn closure

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

Autumn sees the life span of many species coming to a close, particularly amongst short-lived species like insects.

The wasp and bumblebee nests that were buzzing with activity during the summer months have mostly been abandoned by now.

Cold and bedraggled bumblebees do not survive for long. compressor

Cold and bedraggled bumblebees do not survive for long

The new queens have mated and have flown off to find a cosy spot where they will hibernate over winter.

The old queen, the female workers and the males are left behind. Once the old queen dies, the rest of the hive will also shortly die away.

During this time, if you spot a bumblebee openly asleep on a leaf or a flower very early in the morning looking a bit bedraggled, it is probably a male and it has most likely been out all night.

The reason for this is that once his role of mating with the new queens has finished, he has no further contribution to make to the workings of the hive so he is put out of the nest by the other workers.

Bumblebee seeking shelter on a thistle head out of the autumn breeze compressor

Bumblebee seeking shelter on a thistle head, out of the autumn breeze

While males may survive living freely for a short time, overnight cold and damp conditions soon take their toll and they die off quickly.

The main hive will function for a little longer.

However, without the controlling influence of the queen, the colony will also die away, bringing another season to a close for these species.

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