How to help bumblebees at this time of year

15 March 2022

This is lifted from a thread on Twitter this morning, by the person who started the Bee Sanctuary of Ireland

This is just a summary; the original thread, with lots of photos and more links, is here  .He’s asked us to share it more widely.

Lots of people asking us about bumblebees at the moment – why they’re seeing them on the ground – so here’s a quick thread to explain what they’re up to. Please share as every queen that survives means a new colony that gets to exist & produce new queen bees for next year!

Bumblebee queens emerge in early spring from hibernation and immediately need to feed – that’s why early flowering plants are so important. Apart from feeding, their mission at this time is to find a suitable site to establish a nest. Hence you will observe queens flying low to the ground zig-zagging across the landscape – they’re house-hunting. Stopping to explore in long grass and vegetation, hollows in trees, stone walls, under sheds and even compost heaps. During this time bumblebee queens spend a lot of their time resting between flights.

These between flight stopovers can last for up to an hour and they are not always careful about where they take them – sometimes the middle of a footpath can be the ‘ideal’ spot. So if you see a big bumblebee chilling on the ground don’t always presume they need rescuing!

As with sleeping dogs leave resting bees lie – for up to an hour before intervening. (Unless of course she is in imminent danger whereby she should be carefully moved to a safe place). If after about an hour she is still present then she may need assistance.

In this case preference is to move her to a nearby source of nectar – a flower! If no flowers are nearby she can be offered a 50/50 mix of white sugar and water. NEVER offer her honey as although it would seem to be the obvious action honey can contain pathogens that may be harmful to bumblebees. Usually once she takes on some sugars & heats up she’ll happily fly off. Don’t bring her indoors for long periods! Thanks for reading/caring. PLEASE RETWEET this forward. The more informed, the more queens survive & the more bees we have. Simple. “