Unlike hives of honeybees, the bumblebee enters winter in a hive of one. And it isn’t so much a hive as it is a hole.
Come autumn the entire bumblebee colony dies, leaving only the queen to survive the winter by burying herself an inch or two beneath the ground to hibernate until spring.
Come spring, the queen takes on all the roles of the hive. She chooses a nesting site, builds up the comb inside the hive, which she then fills with pollen and nectar she harvests from spring blooms.
Once the cells or “wax pots” have been formed, the queen then proceeds to lay 8 to 10 eggs in each one.
Approximately three weeks later the eggs hatch and up to a 100 worker bees emerge just in time to take over the foraging duties from the no-doubt exhausted queen.
As summer draws to a close the queen stops laying worker bee eggs and fills the wax cells with queen and male drone eggs instead.
When these eggs hatch the drones and queens leave the nest to mate.
Come autumn the old queen, the drones and all the worker bees die, leaving only the new mated queens to survive. These queens search for individual winter digs and the whole cycle starts over once again.