Little Wild Patch in April: Bumblebee Rescue

Spring is here in the UK; well, sort of. There was a sunny, warmish start, but that's been quickly followed by cold and wet, wet, wet (and not the 80's band). Normally I'd be hoeing and planting seeds for the summer, but it's going to be a late one this year.

It's not all bad news.  Blossom is set for full scale coverage , and I've seen several hardy birds with beakfulls of nesting material. A pair of jackdaws are building in the roof of a house opposite (probably not great news for the owners)  but it's brilliant for us to watch them popping in and out!

There are so many things that make me feel excited in the springtime.  Especially early flying bumblebees. They are brilliant! I've talked about how important it is to have flowering plants ready to feed these brave little creatures, but, they may also need another kind of help. The changeable spring weather can be very dangerous for bees. If you find a grounded bumblebee in early spring it's probably a cold, hungry and exhausted Queen. Fear not - you can help!  

Gently pick her up using a piece of card and a glass jam jar. This is regulation kit in our house where we are members of the official Bumblebee Rescue Squad!  Very, very gently push the card beneath her and pop the jar over the top to keep her safe and secure.  Keep the card securely pressed to the glass rim. Take your bee somewhere warmer - and feed her.

You can use a tiny drop of honey, syrup or jam (in that order). Put it easily within her reach, being careful not to get her sticky. You should see her antennae move as she notices the sugary goodness, and eventually her tongue will come out to slurp it!  If she finishes it up,  give her another drop. A full 'honeystomach' can keep a bee flying for up to 40 minutes, which can be the difference between life and death. Once she's fed, you just wait.  After a while,  once she's warm and full she should begin to move about,  Use your rescue kit again to release her! 

Now, insect rescuer is indeed one of my superpowers. I'm ready for action if there's:

  • a wasp trapped in the office
  • a moth which is under serious threat of being sucked to death by our cat!
  • or a house spider needing to be removed from a bathtub

I know not everybody is as keen as me! If you're worried about picking up a bee, this method works really well.  If in doubt - call for some help, or moral support! Just go slowly and be patient. The bees will love you, and you will bask in glory afterwards.

Please watch out for tired and hungry bumbles this spring. By sheltering and feeding a queen bumblebee you may save not only her life, but her entire nest!