Have you ever found yourself taking a nice stroll in the park when you spot a helpless bee who is unable to fly? The flight risk in you might have urged you to walk away, afraid that you might get stung, but at the same time, you champion animal rights all the time and refuse to be a hypocrite by letting this get in the way of your conscience. You muster up the courage to do something and decide to pick it up with your bare hands, but you find yourself at a loss on what to do next. How on earth are you going to nurse this poor bee back to health? If this has happened to you at least once in your lifetime, this article is your holy grail.
What You Should Do and Need To Know
Here is all the basic information that you need about bees, and whether or not taking care of a distressed one will help to save its life.
Bees die more often than you realize
One interesting thing about bees that not many are aware of is the prevalence of dead bees lying everywhere. To put things into perspective, a honey bee colony may lose about a thousand members each day, especially during late spring and early summer. The bees basically fly out of their nests in search of food and end up dropping to their deaths because their frail, thin wings are no longer able to support them. Though sad, this is the cold-hard truth — they overwork until they die. Bumblebees are the most commonly found species as they are characterized by their large size and furry bodies. On the other hand, honey bees are also easily identifiable due to their large numbers.
Queen bees have the longest lifespan
An average lifespan of a bee is typically about four to six weeks, regardless of whether they fly solo or live in great congregations. However, the only exception is the queen bee who has a lifespan of about five years under ideal conditions in the case of honey bees, and in most cases, they usually live up to about a year or so. For queen bumblebees, the longest that they can live for is approximately one year, even when conditions are good. They typically emerge toward the end of the season to mate with a male bee. After this, they will focus on increasing the population of their colony. During cool autumn days, you can usually see gigantic bumblebee queens hovering above flowers in the garden.
When the season ends, they will find a quiet and secluded place to spend the winter alone; they usually select a spot that offers shelter from the elements and a safe one away and out of view from predators. They hibernate during the winter, generally in narrow holes in the ground, making use of their fats for energy. When spring comes, they end their hibernation and proceed to find an ideal spot to build a nest.
Bees are not pets
Many try to confine bees in jars, hoping to effectively nurse them back to health. Some even line boxes with cotton to make it “comfy” for them, warming and cooling the bee with extreme care. However, people should understand that unlike goldfishes, they are not domesticated pets that should be kept and taken care of. They belong to nature, hovering around flowers and drawing nectar from them, and with their colonies. Therefore, helping bees by restricting them to closed spaces will only do more harm than good. Helping out a fellow bee for one night is still acceptable, but avoid prolonging the duration that they are away from the outside world. Chucking them away in containers and jars will only cause more distress to the poor bee, compared to when they are in their natural surroundings.
Should you do something?
If you really think that a bee needs food or a place to rest, you can keep it under your care for a maximum of one night then let it go free. If a bee is wet, simply moving it to a dry and sunny place to cool off will do the trick, as getting wet from the rain is quite a common occurrence.
1. Feeding Syrup
If you think that the bee needs food, a drop of syrup is all they need and avoid having contact with the bee. If it ends up getting all sticky from the syrup, it would have been better off not eating anything at all. Mix a teaspoon of sugar in two teaspoons of water and feed it a drop — do not feed it honey, as tempting as it is because it can potentially carry diseases and attract other bees, thus causing more distress.
2. Bringing them indoors
If you find a bee in the evening and wish to keep her till morning comes, prepare a container with holes for ventilation and place it somewhere with cool room temperature. Putting the bee in an enclosed area will cause it to fly towards your indoor bulbs; inevitably causing injury and harm. Once the sun comes up, you can let it go with a relieved heart.
Most of the time, the bees that you find in flowers in the early mornings or late nights are males as they typically sleep in flowers. When morning comes, they will be covered with dew and may not be able to fly. However, leaving them alone is encouraged as it is just part of the wonderful nature of how bees behave. Rest assured, they will be able to fly in no time.
3. End of life
If a bee does not seem to be wet or cold but has trouble flying, they may be suffering from a disease, a parasite or are simply old. Such signs include ragged wings and a loss of hair, making the bee look especially shiny and black. Bees suffering from such conditions will not be able to recover, and prolonging its life may not be the best idea. Simply leaving it there can be the best thing that you can do, and avoid beating yourself up for it — it is part of nature’s call!
As much as you hope to see the bee recover and fly again, in certain situations, leaving it alone may be the best call. In other situations, if you decide to provide temporary care, simply putting it in a ventilated box with just a drop of syrup will help, and ensure that you let it go when the sun comes up. Bees are uniquely created to adapt to their surroundings and in most cases, they are happy being left alone!