Summer has passed and Autumn is quickly turning into a chilly wet Winter in the UK. Bees of all species are taking shelter and sighting our little friends is becoming harder. If you do see a bee at this time of year chances are it could be a bit of a bother so I’ve compiled this simple guide to help you identify the problem and take the right course of action.
Identifying a Bee to Save
The first thing I want to make abundantly clear is that just because a bee is not flying does not mean it is in need of saving. Just like us, bees have natural life cycles and just like us eventually, they have to come to an end.
If you find a bee resting in an area full of nectar and pollen resources chances are it’s either very tired from a day of foraging and is simply having a rest, or it’s found a lovely place to spend the last of its days.
If you find a wet, waterlogged bee you can check out our guide on how to save a drowning bee.
Is your bee just resting?
Bees get tired too! Just like us bees need a rest in between their tasks. Queen Mary University of London recently undertook a study that found that bumblebee queens regularly rest for between 30 and 40 minutes during early spring. A bumblebee queen is much larger than her other female counterparts and short flights can leave her exhausted and in need of time to recover. If you come across a resting bumblebee simply leave it bee unless it is in a particularly precarious spot in which case you can transport it with a leaf to a safer location.
Bees and Changing Seasons
Seasonal changes play a huge part in bees life cycles and colder temperatures lead hives, colonies and solitary bees to take shelter. During this period some hard decisions need to be made for the overall success of the species and in some cases bees can be actively expelled from their nest and hives. This is very common amongst honeybees who will remove male drone bees as the colder months draw in to ensure the food supply within the hive lasts the long winter.
Tired and Thirsty Bees
If you find a bee in an area that is clearly devoid of any potential for nectar then you may be able to save the bee in question. First of all spend a few minutes ensuring that the bee is not simply resting before taking flight again. If it’s clearly struggling to take flight then your opportunity to save a bee has arrived.
How To save a bee safely
Once you’ve established your bees is really in need you can go about creating a bee energy drink to give it the boost it needs. Simply mix a 1/2 sugar and water solution and place a small amount of your sugar-water concoction close to the bee. You can find our step by step guide on how to revive a bee here.
Saving bees Safely
It’s essential that you do not disturb the bee in the process of providing it with its sugary drink. Simply place your energy giving drink close but not touching the bee in question. This will allow the bee to choose whether or not to drink and will avoid any risk to the bee. Once the bee has drunk everything it needs and takes flight it’s essential you remove any trace of the sugary solution and bring any sugar water mixes inside.
Save A Bee Passively
In all honesty, the best way to save a bee is to create a bee-friendly environment in your garden. By planting all year round flowers you create a bee-friendly garden that will help bees all the way through the seasons. You can also provide things like bee baths to ensure they have an easy source of hydration without the risk of drowning. If you’re interested in creating a bee-friendly garden you can find lots of ideas in our article How To Create A Bee Friendly Garden In 10 Easy Steps.
The Dangers of Sugar Water for bees
How could saving a bee be dangerous? Well, it can have severe effects on local bee populations if this advice isn’t followed properly. Leaving out sugar and water provides an easy, hassle-free resource for local bees. Sugar and water do not have any of the nutrition that is required for long term survival and will not sustain the young larva back at the hive.
Never Feed A Bee Honey
I just quickly wanted to add this as a side note. While the idea of honey seems like a good one there is a very good reason you should never give bees honey. The main impact of this is the potential to transfer serious diseases to a hive that has never previously been exposed. This can lead to the destruction of hives and is devastating to bee populations.