First Aid for Bumblebees and Honey Bees 

Published on May 18th 2020
A bee eating sugar water from a spoon
When a lone bumblebee is spotted, seemingly exhausted on a footpath, we can often assume that it needs a drink or some food to perk it up. A drop of water with a sprinkle of sugar in it will give the bee an extra boost, but they don’t always need us interfering.
I saw a video a while back of someone ‘high fiving’ a bumblebee. Although it looked cool and we’d all love to think the bee was saying hello, by raising her leg she was actually saying ‘keep away’.
The practicalities of flying when so large means that sometimes the bees need a rest before they can rev up and take off. Forcing them to take flight could be fatal, so the first thing we do to help must be to give them a safe area to rest and recuperate, and then supply food if they need it.

How can I can help struggling bees?

You should never feed honey to a bee. This may sound strange, but unless it’s a honey bee and you’re giving it honey from its own hive, you risk transmitting bacteria from one colony, or species, to another.
I don’t feed sugar to my honey bees as I always aim to leave them enough of their own honey to survive and thrive on. In emergencies, pure white honey is void of bee pathogens and will provide pure energy.
As I’m sure you’ll agree, a sugar hit once in a while is fine, but as the main diet for several months, definitely not part of a balanced diet!
A bumblebee on a purple flower
It's also important to remember that bees have short lives of only a matter of weeks, so a few dead bees around the garden is normal. By the autumn, the entire bumblebee colony will have died out, leaving only the queen in hibernation until the spring.

Have you seen many bees this summer? Share your bee photos with the community!

Originally published in July 2019

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