How to help exhausted bees – the truth behind the sugar water claim

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Bumblebees are under threat of extinction with several species having gone extinct in the past 80 years and many others endangered. These creatures are social insects which live in colonies of up to 200 workers. Express.co.uk has compiled a list of top tips to help exhausted bees.

Bees are extremely hard-working insects and always appear to have endless energy.

They are seen throughout the spring and summer buzzing around travelling from flower to flower collecting pollen and nectar.

These insects are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen – the former of which is used as an energy source and the latter used for protein and other nutrients.

Bumblebees are important pollinators of many plants and fruiting trees.

At times you may see bumblebees which appear to be struggling or resting, particularly if that bee is a queen in early spring.

Recent research from Queen Mary University of London showed queen bees spend most of their time resting on the ground between very short dispersal flights.

These bees spend very little time feeding and instead this rest is an important part of the bee life cycle.

If you do find a bee resting, there are a number of steps you can take to assist the bee and ensure its safety in future.

If the bee is not a queen bee, there is a good chance the bee is in trouble.

Bumblebees have a high metabolism which means even if they are full of nectar, they are just 40 minutes away from starvation.

When bees seem to be struggling it may be they need an energy boost.

If the bee needs a hand and there are bee-friendly flowers around, you should gently move the bee onto a flower and give it time to recuperate.

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If there are no bee-friendly flowers around, you may want to mix together a sugar solution.

This should be taken as a last resort because bee-friendly flowers are much better for the bee as they do not contain the nutrition needed.

Sugar offers no nutrients to bees or humans and a lack of protein can even lead to bees eating their own eggs to keep themselves going.

If you do need to give a bee sugar water, mix white sugar and water in a 1:1 ratio to give the bumblebee a one-off energy boost.

Simply mix the solution and then offer a drop or two of sugar water to the front end of the bee on a teaspoon or an upturned drinks cap in a sheltered place.

Give the bee time to recuperate after you have fed it the sugar water.

Do not use brown sugar because it is harder for bees to digest.

Other steps to remember when you want to revive a bee:

  • Check if the bee is wet – if so place them in the sun to warm up.
  • Protect yourself from the bee by using a sleeve, leaf or container when you pick up the bee – making sure to be very gentle.
  • Find a nearby flower which is rich in nectar and pollen such as buddleia, sunflowers or knapweeds.
  • Be patient – the average bee needs around 30 minutes to rest fully.
  • Offer a sugar solution as a last resort only.

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