Saving a Bumble Bee that Cannot Fly

Save the bumble bee

Have you seen a bumblebee that couldn’t fly? Was grounded to the floor, looking like it’s struggling to use its wings and fly away into the sky? Have you felt the urge to help the poor little guy out and release it into the air?

As a compassionate human being, you must have felt the urge to help it. And good news for you; you can! Here you will get the guide to saving a bumblebee that is unable to fly…But before we move on to that, first let’s learn a little about bumblebees. A lot of people do not know much about bumblebees.

Bumblebees

bumble bee
Source: Pinterest

Life of a bee

Bees have an average lifespan of two to six weeks. The majority of female bees come out from their cocoons as adults, and then they mate, collect pollen for a while and then die. Whereas, the males just hang around the nests waiting to mate before they die as well. So, bees just have a short lifespan and even though, yes, you can try and save them, don’t feel sad if you are unable to.

Have you heard about the bees and fear, can they really sense it?

Do you know how long it takes for bees to make honey?

It might be the case that they are near the end of their short lives, and nothing can really help. But, do not look away when you see a bumblebee, or any bee for that fact, in need of help. There is a chance that it is not close to the end of its life, it may be the case that it simply got caught in the rain, or in the dark, and you may be able to help it.

It is a lovely feeling when you can save a little bee fly away to where it belongs. You may be saving a queen, and thus saving the entire nest! Let’s learn a little more about bumblebees.

Do you ever think about how do bees make honey?

How do bumblebees fly?

A common question. Bumblebees are such small insects; how can their awfully small wings possibly carry all of their weight around? It does not look like bumblebees can fly! But yet, they can. Let me tell you how. Bumblebees can beat their wings REALLY fast – around 200 times a second – which allows them to move the same amount of that of birds. Crazy, right?

Now you must be wondering how do they do this? I got your back and the answer. Bees have no muscles attached directly to their wings. Their wing movement is done by two large pair of muscles in their thorax; the dorsoventral muscles (DVMs) and the Doral-longitudinal muscles (DLM). Yeah, I know, complicated names. Glad you don’t have to memorize that for a test or something!

When their dorsoventral muscles(DVMs) contract, the wings beat upwards as their whole tiny body gets squeezed from top to bottom. When the doral-longitudinal muscles(DLM) contacts, their wing beat downwards as their whole small body gets squeezed from front to back. Crazy how nature works, right? The muscles become active shortly after they have been stretched to a certain point.

When one of the muscles contracts, the other one stretches and becomes active. This order of events takes place without having to send the brain messages and thus enabling the bees to beat their wings so quickly. Now that you know how bumblebees fly, let’s see how you can identify if it is a bumblebee. You don’t want to mistake it for a honey bee, do you?

How to identify a bumblebee?

Bumblebees and honey bees both actually belong to the Apidae family. However, they are very different from each other. Bumblebees are cute little bees (honey bees are cute too) that are usually found in higher altitudes.

Look closely, their body should be round and covered in soft hair (they are called pile), so they will appear fuzzy. The easiest way to identify one is by their tails. There are a few types of bumblebees, such as:

  1. White-tailed
  2. Red-tailed
  3. Uniform-tailed (Tail is the same colour as the body)

What should you do when you see a bee that cannot fly?

Now, let’s get to the main part. There are numerous cases that you may encounter when saving a bumblebee, so we will go case by case. Firstly, examine the bee’s situation closely. Maybe the bumblebee is just stuck somewhere and needs a little hand to get out, give it your helping hand and free it!

Keeping the bumblebee warm

Mostly during rain, the bumblebee may get wet and is unable to beat their wings due to the enormous raindrop that fell on them – after all, they are very tiny, like the size of the raindrop!

What you need to do at a time like this is to bring it to a warm place where it can naturally warm up and flee away when it’s dry. All it needs is a little warmth! How can you give it some warmth? Just place the little bumblebee directly under the sunlight, or let it sit on your skin and let it get the warmth from it.

Feeding the bumblebee syrup

During early spring, large bumblebee queens emerge from their winter hibernation and go on their hunt for the earliest spring flowers. They’re searching for the perfect underground place where they can start their colonies. However, since they have been hibernation, it might be difficult for the bee, and you may find it stranded somewhere – just like we will be feeling after this pandemic!

An absence of flowers may starve them, and a foraging bumblebee is only fourty minutes away from starvation. So, what to do? You need to feed it, duh! Don’t be scared to go near them, it won’t be able to harm or sting you when they are in a position like that – they are just hungry and want some food.

Mix up some refined white sugar crystals and water to create a sugar-water solution. It should be 50% water and 50% sugar. This can be done by mixing the sugar quickly in the room temperature water. The next step will be offering the cute little bee the mixture – either by placing it near it or with a teaspoon near its head. Make sure not to give it too much, we don’t want it to get stuck in it and make the situation worse, do we?

You will see its straw-like, long tongue, almost the size of its body, and sucking the mixture. Now, in most cases, your bumblebee should recover shortly after having the sugar-water mixture, even if it seems like your bee is dead. All you need to do now is to give it a little time to recover, based on how weak you think it is.

Keeping the bumblebee inside

If you feel like the weather is not suitable for a bumblebee to fly in, you can bring it inside your house in a closed container with air holes, and let it stay till the weather is good enough. If you have fed it the sugar-water mixture, and you feel like it needs some time to recover before it can fly away, you can keep it inside for the night, or longer if required, so that it can fully recover before going to the outside full of predators!

And if you have given it the warmth it needs, it may not need much time to stay, but wait till the bumblebee is entirely okay before you release it into the air.

Bumble bee’s end of life

There are cases where bees are not wet, cold, or injured. They may have some internal issue, like a disease or a parasite. If that is the case, there is not much you can do. And like I mentioned before, bumblebees have a concise life, and it probably may be at the end of its time, and there is not any way you can help.

Knowing this will be hard, you would just wish you could do something to make it okay or prolong its life. But trust me, at a time like this, it is better to do nothing. If the poor little bee is suffering, it is better not to prolong that by trying to increase its living days. Wonder?  How long bees live for?

Letting the bumblebees bee!

The best thing to do is to let the bumblebee be and let nature do its work. If you think you can help it, sure, go ahead! But take short and simple steps, and if they don’t work, let nature do its job now.

Closing

I hope this article aided you in your mission to save the little bumblebee and I hope you were able to! However, don’t be disheartened if you were not able to save it, despite your efforts – it was just not meant to bee. (Pun intended. Too soon?) Give yourself credits for finding your way here and trying to save the bee, do check out our saving bees necklace collection to support the cause.

And if you were able to save the bee, then bravo! You did a great job – just like the ones who tried their best to save them – and the bumblebee will be ever so grateful to you!

 

References:

https://savebees.org/how-to-help-revive-a-cold-or-wet-bee/#sugar-water
https://www.bumblebee.org/faqBehaviour.htm
https://www.buzzaboutbees.net/found-a-bee.html

Saving a Bumble Bee that Cannot Fly

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