What to do if you find a grounded bumblebee

If you find a grounded bumblebee in the winter or spring, then it is probably a queen who has been caught out in a sudden shower or cold spell! Bumblebees cannot fly if they get too cold, so the bee will need and appreciate your help. Bumblebees are very passive and will only sting if you’re actively threatening them, so don’t be scared to lend a helping hand.

Get the bee onto a piece of card or paper (or get a tiny pebble, they will probably climb on to it) and move it somewhere warmer, drier and safer (for example in a plant pot on its side, under a leaf or some other sheltered place you have). You can also feed the bee using either a 1:1 mix of sugar and water or a 30/70 mix of honey and water (sugar in preference if you have some) – just put a drop of the mix on a suitable surface within the bee’s reach but make sure not to get it on the bee. Once the bumblebee has warmed up and fed, she will most likely fly off.

By saving a queen you may have saved an entire nest.

(If the weather really is awful and not bumblebee friendly, you can keep her somewhere sheltered until it improves, but make sure to remember to provide food, and let the bumblebee out if it starts flying around)

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About Cherry Rose

Eco-hippy, prone to posting about interesting eco-innovations and also about bees. I am working on the Friends of the Earth Bee campaign (an umbrella campaign for all sorts of efforts to save the bees) and hope that this will be interesting to everyone!
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26 Responses to What to do if you find a grounded bumblebee

  1. Thanks for that info. I’ve been kind of doing this forever, but the honey and water is a new tip – I used to do sugar and water.
    Guess honey is better.

  2. Karin says:

    Thanks for this advice, although I don’t expect to be out looking for bumblebees in this weather, but it could come in useful. I have read that you shouldn’t give honey to bees because it contains alsorts of disease spores from the bees who made it, which other bees might not have immunity to. It is better to give a sugar solution, although I’m not sure of the exact proportions of sugar and water.

    • Cherry Rose says:

      You do just find them though don’t you. Interesting point re the honey, thanks for that. I’ll update the article.

      • galadrielcrystal says:

        I expect that in some ways, the honey’s more natural… Not wanting to disagree with scientific advice, however of course. Beautiful, thank you so much for posting. I love rescuing bumblebees and all sorts of insects from pavements when they’re dozy or in a precarious resting place. It never occured to me to feed them! I shall carry sugar and water in my rucksack from now on! 🙂

  3. galadrielcrystal says:
  4. Karin says:

    Well, Galadriel, naturally wasps and other bees do rob hives of honey, so it can’t be that bad.

  5. Matthew Pike says:

    Nice advice. I’d stick to the honey for the feed, it’s a pretty strange moment when man tries feeding process sugar to natures natural sweet goodness produces. A much needed post. thanks.

    • Karin says:

      Beekeepers do it all the time, Matthew. They feed their bees fondant in Winter to help them survive and sugar solution at other times to help them through bad weather and a shortage of nectar rich flowers. Counter intuitive as it may seem with bees being under threat from a variety of diseases at present sugar solution may be safer than honey. It could be that there are so many other stresses on bees at present that they often find it hard to fight disease. Brown sugar is not good for them, either, it must be white.

  6. diana crawshaw says:

    I once found one outside Habitat in Chelsea in a freezing rainstorm.it was trying to get into the brightly lit window! I picked it up and took it home on the train to Acton.I put him in a nice warm place ,inside,by the balcony door.Next morning,I got up early and took him out in the sunshine and he flew away.

  7. love it. feel good. useful. entertaining. educational. thanks!

  8. Jenni says:

    Please do NOT give honey it may be carrying diseases. Sugar and water is fine, some sugar crystals on a tea spoon with some water works well, don’t worry about mixing it to a perfect solution as they’ll just drink it from where it’s the right concentration. If you happen to be eating an apple then a small section of apple would be appreciated too.

  9. Thomas Glen says:

    !’vs saved to bumblebees which were inside my house(luckily the cats never seen them).i gave them some jam watered down and within about ten minutes the both of them were out the window flying home.

  10. Tessy says:

    I tried to nurse a bumblebee once. I think it was near the end of it’s life though as it died after a day. At least it had some nice juicy flowers before it went.

  11. galadrielcrystal says:

    Hello, I have just rescued this bumblebee. It’s been such a warm day, not sure what was up with it. It couldn’t fly but with encouragement, would crawl. Didn’t want sugar and water, maybe my mixture was too diluted. I put it onto 5 flower heads that it liked, then ran out of flowers. Have put it in a box with a hole it could crawl out of, onto a dandelion if needed but I’m worried – is it ok to leave it on the ground? What might its predators be? Will tape the box up, it’s possible mice could fit through the hole.

    Sorry don’t know what else to do with it now it’s getting dark and colder!

    • Cherry Rose says:

      Do you have a windowsill? Or a ledge anywhere? Or even a bedroom window you’re going to be leaving open for the night? It’s ok to bring a bee in for the night so long as it can get out easily too.

      If you leave a few drops of sugar mix (not a bowl) near it, that gives it some food too and water if it wants it.

      Acc. To bumblebee.org, if it has ragged wings there isn’t much hope as it’s either ill or very old, but nothing bad about being kind anyway 🙂

      I hope that helps, good luck, and you’re fab for caring and doing something to help.

    • Cherry Rose says:

      Hello – how did it work out? Did your little bumblebee make it?

  12. Patricia Purdue says:

    Thanks for the information really helped in the saving of a queen bee we found struggling. After 2 days of keeping warm and feeding with a 1 sugar and 1 measure of water she flew away so very pleased we could do this, felt very privileged to have helped.

  13. dee says:

    Found a queen bee in my garden looked weak wasn’t really moving. So I got thinking. Checked the net for help found help. I got a empty carton cut off half of the lid and walked in the bee with some extra care fully encouragement help put couple of drops of honey and placed it back into my garden next to the fence. I was a bit scared but I told it if u sting me I will not help you in my mind. Lol. Wnet back after 30mins I found yhe queen bee buzzing its wings it been 45mins snice I went back to see if it has taken off…

  14. dee says:

    Went back its still in carton,l but its in much better living state. Hopefully in time it should take off

  15. Arista says:

    Hi! I am seeing all sorts of grounded bees here in Boston with our sudden cold spell. I thought they were dead until I checked online. It’s about to snow here. What shelter do you put them in? I am actually a bit scared of bees so I don’t want to bring them inside the apartment (plus my dog will try to eat them). What should I do? Thank you!

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