Should this bee be underground in winter? According to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris has been out and about foraging on winter-flowering plants over the past 25 years or so. Apparently, a small proportion of mated queens will establish nests in the autumn, and these can exploit winter resources in our gardens.
The Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society is working with the BCT to gather data to find out more.
In the meantime, you can enjoy watching these beautiful furry creatures in your winter garden. They like mahonia and hellebores too. These bumblebees nest in the ground and can use an empty mouse nest. Hundreds of bees can occupy one nest.
Mason bees, on the wing mainly in April to June, pollinate our fruit trees. Bee houses and bundles of bamboo all help mason bees and can be easily replaced when not in use. Leafcutter bees come a bit later, using bits of leave to line their nests and waggle their bums when foraging.
As with all wildlife there are risks and drawbacks and you simply need to do your best. Providing gardens that are pollinator-friendly is better than keeping hives. They need to forage and we can help them. What better reason to grow lots of flowering plants? Single and open flowers for easy access to nectar and pollen are best. Avoid pesticides too. Live and let live and nature will take its course.