Bees may be busier this winter

Texas Agrilife: Unusual amount of reports of bee activity

SAN ANTONIO – It's mid-February and some area plants are seeing a flurry of activity.

"We've been having unusual amounts of phone calls and emails,” said Molly Keck, a Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service entomologist and integrated pest management specialist in Bexar County. 

Keck said those calls have all been regarding bees.  

"The bees want to come out and look for some food and maybe they don't have any food in their house, or maybe they're tricked into thinking its spring,” Keck said.

Weather, not surprisingly, is likely the reason for the slight uptick in activity. A wet fall and a fairly warm winter could be the cause. Keck also pointed out that honey bees do not hibernate in the winter, so once a warm, sunny day comes along, bees will often gather around food sources.  

"They're recruiting all their nest mates to go to that food source. It doesn’t mean they're going to start nesting there,” Keck said.

According to Texas Agrilife studies, honey bee hives can consume 30 pounds of stored honey during the winter.  As for those who fear bees, Keck said there's little reason to be nervous.

"If they're in a tree hole or they're up in the eaves of your house, then you want to be concerned about them, but when they're foraging, your chance of getting stung by them is pretty small,” she said.

In the end, the activity is likely a good thing that will provide a head start on spring pollination. 

"Honey bees are the No. 1 pollinators for us, and we don't realize how many things they pollinate, even just in our own backyards,” Keck said.



About the Author:

Justin Horne is a meteorologist and reporter for KSAT 12 News. When severe weather rolls through, Justin will hop in the KSAT 12 Storm Chaser to safely bring you the latest weather conditions from across South Texas. On top of delivering an accurate forecast, Justin often reports on one of his favorite topics: Texas history.