Earlier this week, I posted a photo on my Instagram of me feeding an exhausted bumblebee. They were walking across the driveway very slowly looking very tired, unable to fly.
Often bumblebees can suffer from exhaustion at this time of year due to lack of available food and the cold weather. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more common as their natural habitat and thus food resources become fragmented due to urbanisation. One way we can help prevent this is by planting bee-friendly gardens. You can see my post about how I am improving our family garden here and an update here!
Obviously when adding more bee friendly plants to your garden, it can take a while before you see any progress. So the best way to help exhausted bees in the short term is to feed them when you see them struggling.
What to do in this situation:
- If necessary encourage the bee to walk into a movable object e.g. a leaf/piece of paper, move them as minimally as possible to a safe place away from cars/ pedestrians. Try not to move them too far.
- Make a solution of water and white granulated sugar (as concentrated as possible).
- Pour some on a plate, flat surface or a small spoon for the bee to drink from. Make sure there isn’t too much so the bee doesn’t drown!
- Once they are no longer interested in drinking any more, ensure that they are in a safe place and give them some time to get their strength back. They should then hopefully fly away after a while!
As most of you will know, bees are in decline globally. This is a situation of every little helps. Many bees around this time of year are queens emerging from hibernation. Bees who aren’t queens could possibly be some of the first foragers from their colony. It is important that they return to the nest to produce food and care for the next brood in order for their colonies to continue to grow.
If you look carefully at the above photo you can see the bee’s proboscis where they were drinking the sugar solution! Keep an eye out for any exhausted bees and let me know if you rescue any.
Note: Please be aware you should not feed exhausted bees honey. This is a common misconception and can actually cause more harm than good. Make sure you stick to sugar water only!