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First aid for bees

Posted by Sara on July 9, 2009

Bumble bees are amazing creatures and with their gentle buzzing and bumbling flight they epitomise all that’s great about long lazy summers. Best of all they make honey! They are also incredibly important to our ecosystem and unfortunately are in dramatic decline. So every bee counts.

During the summer it’s not unusual to come across a grounded bee that’s been caught out by a cold spell or sudden down pour (like the one I found in our road, below, following last tuesday’s torrential rain) – sometimes they are so busy working they forget to drink and just end up exhausting themselves. If you come across such a bee in distress don’t walk away! Use a piece a card to pick her up and move her somewhere safe where she won’t get stepped on.

move the bee somewhere safe so it won't get stepped on

move the bee somewhere safe so she won't get stepped on

Bees need energy and warmth to fly so find somewhere sunny where he / she will be able to warm up and if possible leave some food nearby for her to feed on. Honey / water solution is best but sugar will do in a pinch. If the weather’s really bad or if it’s getting dark it may be possible to keep her overnight provided you feed her.

some honey and warmth will get them back to normal in no time!

some honey and warmth will get them back to normal in no time!

Remember – by saving a Queen you may well be saving the whole nest! And without bees there would be nothing to pollinate our crops and other plants and the human race would die off in 7 years.

Find out more about these amazing, gentle creatures and how to encourage them into your garden here.

6 Responses to “First aid for bees”

  1. Pauline said

    Hi there, I love the bumble bees, I ve often picked them cold and wet off the pavements in Spring, I keep them in wooden boxes with a honey drink until they are well and able to go on their way on a sunny day.
    I found bumble bees were no longer visiting my garden, so I have been doing all I can to get them back, and this year I am feeding them, and the garden is buzzing, and they are so tame now, they are waiting for me in the morning if the honey drink has run out. Pauline.

  2. theenook said

    I now have this lovely image of all these bees lined up waiting for their breakfast! thanks for the comment, sara

  3. dave said

    if i came across a queen bee i think i would run! it would probably mean that the rest of the hive is probably swarming nearby.

    interestingly enough, we were talking about royal jelly and queen bees this weekend.

  4. theenook said

    thanks dave – royal jelly! I knew i’d forgotten something! one more reason to love our bees.

  5. Sophie said

    Many thanks for posting this, it ‘s been a great reassurance that we were doing the right thing for a bumble bee I found in our spare room today having had the windows open to air the house taking advantage of the sunshine we had today! The bee seems to be still alive but is very still. I think it had some of the honey I put next to iron a teaspoon but I didn’t give it any water so have just put some in there. What do I do if it is better tomorrow as the weather forecast is torrential rain!? Where do bumble bees live in usually? Can we create a bee house for it in the garden like the ones you can buy in the shops or is that for other types of bee like the leaf cutters? How do you feed your bumble bees the honey water? I want to attract more toour area and have already got budleia, lavendar and ceonothus in the garden – what else can we do?

  6. theenook said

    Hi Sophie – there is a great webpage over at http://www.bumblebee.org full of information on bees – on helping grounded bees it says:
    “..if you find a grounded bumblebee early in the year, just at the start of the first warmer days, then it is probably a queen. She may have been caught out in a sudden shower or a cold spell. If the temperature of the thorax falls below 30 oC the bumblebee cannot take off (see temperature regulation). The best thing you can do it pick her up using a piece of paper or card, put her somewhere warmer, and feed her. When she has warmed and fed she will most likely fly off. You can feed her using a 30/70 mixture of honey and water in a pipette or eye dropper, or just a drop of this on a suitable surface within her reach, but be careful not to wet her hair or get her sticky. By saving a queen you may have saved an entire nest. If the weather is really unsuitable for letting her go, or if it is getting dark, you can keep her for a day or so if you are willing to feed her.”

    There’s also loads of info on attracting bees to your garden – good luck!

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