How to help insects

Anyone who finds an exhausted bumblebee on the ground that apparently can no longer fly on its own can help it with little effort. The furry insects are harmless and just as beneficial as bees – and like their honey-producing colleagues, bumblebees need our help.

A bumblebee not only drinks nectar, you can also serve the insects sugar water - Image: Shutterstock/sailorr

A bumblebee not only drinks nectar, you can also serve sugar water to the insects – Image: Shutterstock/sailorr

If a bumblebee is lying on the ground in the garden or on the terrace, it does not always mean that the beneficial insect is dead. So stop and take a closer look: Is the furry little animal still moving? Does it appear unharmed on the outside, but is it crawling across the ground a little disoriented and unable to take off? Then it may be that the bumblebee is just weakened. In such a case, you can help by providing the bumblebee with the right food.

First, however, you should move the insect to a safe place—otherwise it might get trampled on the sidewalk or patio, or get eaten by a bird. Since bumblebees usually hardly sting, you can even pick them up carefully with your hand. Or you push a piece of paper under the animal and transport it carefully out of the danger zone. It is best to place the bumblebee in a sunny spot. In early spring, the animals can also be hypothermic.

Weakened bumblebee on the ground: immediate help with sugar water

The best way to feed a bumblebee that is “stranded” on the ground is to stir up a sugar solution. To do this, dissolve half a teaspoon of sugar in lukewarm water. It is important that the sugar has completely dissolved in the water. Only when there are no more sugar crystals in the water can the insect easily ingest the solution.

Bumblebees belong to the real bee family - Image: Shutterstock / Sailorr
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01/23/2015 – 15:23

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Feed the bumblebee properly

The sugar water is ready – but what is the best way to feed it to the bumblebee? The insects don’t really have a mouth, they drink with a small proboscis. Therefore, it is most practical for bumblebees if you use a pipette or a plastic syringe to drip a drop of sugar water next to their perch. They can then drink it with their trunks. A teaspoon, Lego brick or a bottle cap can also serve well as a “bumblebee plate”.

If you not only want to save exhausted bumblebees in your own garden, but also want to do something for the animals elsewhere, you can prepare a “bumblebee emergency kit”. Carefully wash a glass pipette bottle, such as that used for nose drops, and fill it with sugar water. Carrying this in your purse or work bag means you’ll be armed as soon as you see a distressed bumblebee on the ground, and you’ll be able to immediately help and save it.

Causes of exhausted bumblebees

There may be a few reasons why you find exhausted bumblebees on the ground. In the spring, the bumblebee queens are looking for a nesting site where they can found a new colony of bumblebees. However, the search can take a long time and the animals have to feed on the supplies they stored in their honey stomachs the previous year.

Although they can also feed on flower nectar, periods of bad weather can quickly lead to a lack of food. As a result, some buzzers end up exhausted on the floor. Anyone who feeds a bumblebee with sugar solution not only saves an animal, but possibly even an entire future colony of bumblebees. Bumblebees can also weaken in summer. The reason: there is a lack of sufficient food sources, especially in urban areas.

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