14.5.10

How to save a bee

I opened up the polytunnel on a cold, grey afternoon and heard a dull buzzing. There, twitching feebly in the soil, was a tired bumble bee. She probably wore herself out trying to find an exit and the chilly, overcast weather can't have helped much. I remembered something I'd heard about sugar syrup, so I gently coaxed her onto my hand and took her inside.

I placed her on a saucer and quickly mixed up some cold water and caster sugar, making a liquid syrup she could drink and dolloped it on her plate. She was so dopey and weak I had to carefully steer her to the puddles, but once she realised what it was, she began drinking.

As her feet were slipping I popped a leaf under her. After about five minutes she seemed to have drunk her fill and was anxiously crawling about, already a little stronger.

I took her back into the garden and settled her on a pot where she collected her wits, had a little wash and eventually - well, see for yourselves! (There is some lovely birdsong in the background too).


Bees are having a dreadful time of it, with the combined efforts of mankind and diseases; although we can't keep a hive, I am going to make more of an effort to look after the weary ones, especially now I know how easy - and effective - it is. When the bees die out, we are not far behind.


edit - many thanks to Jill of Third Age Musings, for letting me know that this was a Red-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus Lapidarius and I now wonder if she was a Queen, emerging from hibernation?

51 comments:

Cathy Cullis said...

Fantastic video and post! I will remember your tips. I love to see bees, especially in my own little garden. I try to grow 'bee plants' like lungwort that flower in early spring to give them something when they are waking up, but as you say we really have to do more.... thanks and enjoy your weekend! Cathyx

Jill said...

A lovely post - have done this many times,don't you love the way they clean themselves off? And thank you for giving me the opportunity to practise my bumblebee spotting skills (I'm a new member of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust) and I can pretty definitely say that you rescued a Red-tailed bumblebee - Bombus lapidarius

debby emadian said...

How lovely. I was photographing some nettles in the garden a couple of days ago and found myself photographing the bees instead. I've been seriously thinking about keeping bees recently.......maybe next year.....

julie said...

well done Gretel. I've defintely noticed that there are less bees around this year. Our plum tree normally swarms with them but when it blossomed a few weeks ago there were only a few hard at work. We're going to build a bug hotel later this year for hibernating bees and bugs but in the meantime we'll keep an eye out for any weary ones and use your great tips.

Lunabee said...

What a great blog post, I love bees and will remember this for the future, well done bee saver Gretel :D
Sarah x

Jee said...

Well done, Gretel. I'm a member of the Bumblee Bee Conservation Trust too http://www.bumblebeeconservation.org.uk/ It's well worth a look at their site. Love these fat furry bees especially, we must do what we can to help them survive.

Sarah Wimperis said...

Big Dave does this with every weary bee he finds, it is brilliant to see them revive but as he is so allergic to bees that one sting will dispatch him within mere seckonds it freaks me out...maybe the bees know and he is actually proctecting himself by stocking up on good bee karma!
We used to have five hives, love them little bees they are so interesting

Michelle Palmer said...

LOVE your post... LOVE that you took the time to help your Red-tailed friend... and share with us!
Hope your weekend is wonderful~
Michelle

janet said...

Dear Gretel...I am smiling ear to ear!! Well done and I am sure your little Bumble will tell all its buddies of your kindness and they will pollenate all your flowers. Love the red tail. Thanks so much for sharing this with us..a real treat.
your friend,
Janet

Mary Beth said...

What a fantastic video. Now if this were a story, when you needed help most, the Queen of the bees would be there to save you! Hopefully they will leave a marker showing that you are a kind hearted bee lady and pollinate all your flowers & plants for you:)

the casbah kitten said...

What a wonderful post!! We have had SO many bees here this spring, buzzing around the Ajuga. I'm hoping to get a Mason Bee house up this year and I would dearly love an old fashioned straw bee skep!! I never knew about the sugar syrup though...great information.

Trailshome said...

We keep bees, and love them. Fascinating critters. Love to help them out whenever possible. Here's the only poem I've ever managed to memorize.

Now a bee's front end is sweet and kind,
But never trust a bee's behind.
For a bee can sting if it can sit,
So always stay in front of it!

Isn't that fun?

Frances said...

Gretel, this post and the video are such a delight! You have given me much to think about (and smile about, too) while I have this morning's Cheerios and coffee.

Thank you, and also thanks to the previous commenters for all the bee information they've offered.

xo

Southern Lady said...

Wow, thanks for sharing! I will keep my eyes open for the weary little creatures. Carla

Cloudhunter said...

Brilliant video! I shall be sure to remember your advice, as last year we found so many sad looking bees and just didn't know how to help them.

Laurel said...

Thank you for the lovely post! I live in the U.S. and I don't think I've ever seen a bumblebee that's all black. But, to be honest, I didn't realize there were so many kinds, either, so I'm going to pay closer attention to them, too.

We have a bumblebee nest in our yard, though--they live in a hole in the ground!

Thank you for the lovely and inspiring post.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Well done, saving the world a bee at a time. Love her red tail. WOW!

Val Reaves said...

Hi,..This is so wonderful! I never knew, and now I do! Your kindness will be magnified far and wide... Even now I continue to smile..
Thank you
Val in Kansas :-)

frayedattheedge said...

A super post - I love learning things like this - I just hope I remember if I find a ditressed bee in the garden!

Menopausal musing said...

A delightful post Gretel. Thank you.

Linda-B said...

What a kind soul you are! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Here in southeast Texas, the bee population is also suffering -- no doubt from insecticides, ever diminishing habitat, and hurricanes. I share your view that when bees are gone, soon we will be, too.

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

I'm SO glad you saved the bee and I'm also very thankful you posted this. I've found some floundering honeybees out in the garden in the past few months and haven't known what I could possibly do for them. I'll try this next time. I am such a fan of bees, but like you I can't keep a hive. So I do everything else I can to help them.

Jessie said...

You're such a sweet kind person :)x

Yarrow said...

Oh how wonderful. Thank you, as a total bee lover, this is such a kind way to treat a precious little bee. Maybe she may inspire a painting or needlefelt creature.x

Frances Tyrrell said...

Lovely. How rewarding to see her liven up, freshen up and then, buzzzz, fly away. You have been a bee fairy!
I have done a painting of a red tailed bumblebee (loved the colours) but have never seen one. What I do have in the garden here are the big black Mason bees, which are supposed to be hard workers, excellent for the garden and mostly stingerless.
The bees have suffered here too but seem to be making a comeback.
May the bees bless you!

rossichka said...

Oh, dear Gretel, what a nice and compassionate person you are! I live in a town and I don't have experience with bees but I love what you've done - saving this little soul in the most appropriate way! I enjoyed the video very much, I liked the text and the birds' singing. I think I heard a turtle-dove? It always reminds me of my early childhood, when we lived in a house in the centre of the town...

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

A story worthy of EB White.
Made me smile.
What stories your little worker bee will have to tell when he returns to the hive.

absurdoldbird said...

What a lovely post - and video! I used to be terrified of bees but am very fond of them these days. Lovely to see and read, thank you! (I'm having problems getting my comment to post, so if this posts more than once, my apologies).

Amber Dusick said...

What a lovely thing to do! I loved watching it clean up, looked like a little bunny rabbit almost. Thanks for sharing this.

Liza said...

I can often be seen crouching over a casualty with a teaspoon of sugar water - it's very satisfying to know you have saved a life isn't it! Also great to do with kids.x

Threadspider said...

You are truly a woman after my own heart-this is my year of learning about bees and have found a nest of red tailed bees in the garden. Gorgeous video.

Caroline B said...

We have always saved bees and butterflies in our family - must be something my mother taught me - but we usually find a nice flowery plant to tempt them. Fascinating watching the film and seeing it get itself all spruced up and ready to go. I quite fancy bee-keeping but where we live it is totally impractical - lots of them buzzing round our apple blossom which is heartening.

freebird said...

I didn't know you could save a bee. I sure heard the doves in the background. Sounds just like my home.

Puddock said...

Wonderful wonderful wonderful!

Thanks for this wonderful post Gretel. I'm going to pinch your vid for my blog if that's okay, and spread the word about saving the bees...and maybe spread a little sunshine at the same time :)

Twiglet said...

Brilliant!! Hope it warms up soon - its not just us humans who need a bit of sunshine.

Mlle Miracle said...

Gretel, it's been a while since I last visit your blog, it's good to read you again! I agree with you, if bees die out, what will come to all of us... We have to take care of every big or tiny creature of our planet.
I encourage you to get your drive license, it seems you have a terrific time at your stall. Go for it!
As for my future little etsy shop, yes, I would like to open it, we'll see...

beweave said...

Thanks for the inspiration. A bee saver, I didn't know I could do this too.

Debbie Miller of Onion Patch said...

Aww...that is the neatest thing. I never knew you could do that. Thanks so much for sharing!!
Blessings,
Debbie

penjandrum said...

Incredible, amazing photos.

Karen said...

Thanks for sharing this Gretel.
Now I know what to do too if I find a tired and weary bee :)
Hubby is about to look into keeping some, which would be great as like you say they need all the help they can get. :)

acornmoon said...

Good for you Gretel!

moonbindery said...

I'm so glad the bumble made a good recovery.
Wish I'd known about this a few days ago--I found a bumblebee that needed some help, so I put it in a quiet place, but I'm sure a sweet drink would have helped, too. Next time I'll know...

mixdbrew said...

This has got to be the best video i've seen in a long, long time...peaceful, simply beautiful. And how beautiful a person you must be for having saved this magnificent li'l creature.

Wish You Were Here said...

I don't know you; I stumbled across your blog very much by accident. But this post (and your many others) shows what an obviously lovely person you must be. May you be taken care of like that when you need it.

Also, what type of camera did you use to film the bee? The quality is amazing.

sweetmyrtle said...

this is wonderful. loved the buzz when wee bee was ready to fly off x
p.s. day off and blog browsing, glad i have found you again!

Mytutorlist.com said...

That was so cool! Thanks for sharing the pictures and the video. You are such a humanitarian to the little living creatures!

beemad said...

I've found a poorly bee in my bathroom and currently trying to nurse him back to health. didn't have any sugar or syrup but he's currently licking a jelly bean that I ran under water! hopefully works, I'll post an update later...

beemad said...

Ok so I left another few jelly beans for him overnight and went to bed, didn't want to put him outside at night as it was chilly. he was still eating this morning, I put him on the window ledge and he flew away after a few mins. success!

dave cook said...

I just found one on my bedroom floor,it's having a drink of honey.It's the obvious choice to revive them and it's instant.I will put him/her on a windowsill before I leave for work and hope it's done the trick ;-)

dave cook said...

I have just found one on my bedroom floor,it's having a drink of honey as we speak.I will put it on a windowsill before I go to work and hope it's done the trick. :-)

dave cook said...

Just to let you know,i came back from work and no sign of the bee,hope its safely back where it belongs