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How to help revive a cold or wet bee

Bumble beeI’m often asked by folks what to do when one finds a cold, wet, or sluggish bee. The good news is that in many cases, you can help! And depending on the bee, you may not just be helping one bee but many, because your bee may be a queen bee.

If after reading all of the tips and advice below, you still have questions about your particular bee situation, drop a comment on this page and I’ll try to get back to you within the hour (sometimes much quicker, but other times I’m not as available)!

Early spring bumble bee queens

In early spring, large fluffy bumble bee queens are emerging from their winter hibernation. They’re searching for the earliest spring flowers and looking for the perfect underground burrow in which to start their colonies for the year (colonies that will number in the low hundreds of cute, fuzzy bumble bees).

This timing is difficult for a bee to determine, and sometimes you’ll find a stranded bumble bee queen who’s simply run out of steam and needs a helping hand. Not only may unseasonable weather trip them up, but a lack of flowers may too (a foraging bumble bee is only ever about 40 minutes away from starvation).

A quick sugar-water fix

Quick Recipe

  • 1 part sugar crystals (not brown)
  • 1 part room temperature water

Mix vigorously, then offer small portion

The first thing to do is to feed your bee. A cold, hungry bee is nothing to fear (in fact, bees are nothing to fear anyway, and you’re probably not too worried if you’re reading this page… but if you are, keep in mind that a cold sluggish bee is in no position or mood to sting… they’re simply hungry and cold, and will be happy for any help you provide).

To feed your bee, mix up some organic granulated cane sugar or refined white sugar crystals to create a sugar-water solution. A 1:1 mix (50%/50%) is appropriate, and this can be achieved simply by stirring the sugar rapidly in room temperature water. Offer a small portion of this solution (just a drop or two to begin with) in a shallow lid or teaspoon placed near the bee’s head.

You may see something long sticking out from the bee’s head, which is her tongue… if you see this, place a drop of your sugar-water mix directly beneath her tongue. Not too much as a weakened bee may be clumsy, and you don’t want to make the situation worse by getting your bee covered in sugary water (which a sluggish bee will have trouble cleaning off herself, though she’ll be able to once she recovers her energy).

In most cases, your bee will recover quickly after drinking some sugar-water. Offering sugar-water often works even if it appears to you as though your bee is dead! A quick sugar-water fix should help your bee on its way to living another day 😌 It may take a few minutes or a few hours for her to recover, depending on how weak she was to begin with. Don’t be surprised to find your bee gone if you’re not keeping a constant eye on her!

Note that if it’s cold out (but otherwise good weather for bees), you’ll speed your bee’s recovering along by warming her up. You may do this by placing her in the sun, by letting her sit on your warm skin (a hand or arm), or by bringing her indoors briefly (in a ventilated box) to warm up and drink some sugar-water.

Types of sugar to avoid

It’s important to avoid brown sugar (which contains extra solids from molasses) and avoid maple syrup (which contains extra minerals), both of which are difficult for bees to digest. Also, do not use boiling water (when sugars caramelize at high heat, they can create indigestible and possibly bee-toxic compounds).

In years past, I advised feeding a drop of local raw honey, but this can be a vector for spreading bee diseases, so to be safe, avoid feeding honey. If you’ve fed honey in the past, don’t worry about it too much, chances are you likely helped anyway.

Avoid high fructose corn syrup at all costs, as compounds toxic to bees can be formed during manufacturing (as a result of overheating). And it should go without saying to avoid the fake stuff! I avoid conventional sugar because of possible pesticide residues (especially when sourced from sugar beets, which account for most sugar production and consumption in the United States; Monsanto licenses a Roundup Ready trait to sugarbeet seed companies).

Feeding bees sugar-water

The sugar-water solution I detail above should only be used in emergency situations. Sugar-water is not sufficient for bees nutritional needs long-term (they need all the other trace components of flower nectar for a balanced diet). Putting a dish of sugar-water out may attract bees, but it is not a good idea and it will not help bees in your area, however much they may appear to appreciate it as free food (it can also incense some bees and cause them to be more aggressive than they usually would be, as they compete for such an unusually easy food source).

Bees need pure water though! One of the best things you can do (especially on hot days) is to provide a large shallow dish of fresh water with pebbles in it so that bees may easily reach the water without falling into it. Honey bees in particular need water on hot days in order to cool their hives, and you may see a variety of pollinators and other insects coming to your water dish if you watch for any length of time!

What if it’s freezing outdoors?

Sometimes you’ll find a bee in need of help in unseasonable weather (especially in early spring when bumble bee queens are emerging from hibernation). After offering sugar-water, you may decide that the best thing to do is to keep your bee overnight. If it’s late at night and cold, or raining or even snowing outdoors, then releasing your bee may not be an option.

Base your decision on the time of day, the weather, and your observation of the bee… if it’s morning or afternoon, and she looks ready to go after sipping sugar-water, then she’ll likely want to bee on her way (even if it’s cool and a bit rainy). If it’s approaching evening or night, the weather is worsening, and the bee seems sluggish, her chances will improve by keeping her overnight (some people even end up keeping their bees several nights in a row, until the weather improves… just be sure to mimic as much as possible typical day/night light cycles and temperatures, so your bee doesn’t get confused).

In that case, it’s time to make a cozy home for your bee for the night. A shoebox works well for this (with holes punched in it to provide ventilation). Although we like soft things to lie on, it’s best not to add materials inside the box, as things like fabric may catch on a sluggish bee’s feet and make moving even more of a struggle for her.

Place her in the box, and provide a little greenery too so that it’s not just a bee inside a stark, empty box. Generally speaking (for overnight stays), I’d avoid placing flowers in the box, as they will lose their nectar fairly quickly, and may confuse a bee looking for food. However, I’ve heard of times when having flowers inside the box is just the thing to “cheer up” a bee and speed her on her way. If the time of day and weather is just “iffy” and might still be good enough for your bee to go out in, then try adding flowers into her box and seeing if she buzzes around sufficiently to bee on her way. If you’re still left with a sluggish bee, remove the flowers but put something natural of interest in the box for the night.

Also leave a very shallow and small dish of sugar-water inside the box. Place the box somewhere that’s not too warm not too cold… err on the side of cooler, simply because it’s going to simulate their natural environment better. But certainly don’t allow the box to sit in freezing temperatures! Somewhere “in-between” such as a garage, utility room, or other sheltered and lightly-heated area is ideal.

Check on your bee from time to time; if she’s full of energy and buzzing, she may well wish to take her chances outdoors. Bumble bee queens in particular are fairly well-equipped for unseasonable weather (bumble bees are quite special in terms of their ability to decouple their flight muscles from their wings and vibrate them in order to warm themselves up).

If your bee seems comfortable and settled into her box, then wait to release her until the weather is more favorable (at least 50-55°F or 10-12°C). Bees are not particularly early risers! On the next day of decent weather, make sure your bee has had a little sugar-water for breakfast, and then leave her box open in a sunny warm spot outdoors. If you hang around for a few minutes, you’ll likely see her buzz around her box a bit, and then take off happily!

A few years ago I read the most charming story about someone’s encounter with a bumble bee queen and how she rescued it with sugar water and a night in a shoebox. Read her inspiring story: The Plight of the Bumblebee

How to save a drowning bee

Sometimes people see bees struggling in water, unable to reach anything that would give them a “leg up” and out to safety. The easiest way to rescue a bee from the water is to use a leaf or some other object close-to-hand to scoop them up. If you rescue your bee from water, the first thing to do is to put it in the sunlight so it can dry out and warm up. While we generally prefer recovering in the shade, bees recover far faster in full sun.

Avoid handling the bee much, or attempting to separate the wings or correct other things that appear amiss. Warm sun will help “reactivate” the bee, which can then clean its own wings much more gently than us. It’s also a good idea to offer a sugar-water mix as above, if your bee doesn’t take off soon after being scooped up and placed somewhere warm and dry.

If it’s too late at night for there to be any warmth or sunlight, then keep your bee overnight in a ventilated box following the suggestions above, and release her the following morning.

What if there are mites on the bee?

The bee mites we read about in the news are a very specific type of mite (Varroa destructor) that only affects honey bees because of their unique life cycle. If your bee is a larger, fuzzier bee, chances are it’s a bumble bee instead. Bumble bees have mites too… they’re just far smaller mites, and they’re not dangerous for the bee. They’re typically “hitchhiking” to the bumble bee’s nest from flowers, where the mites then feed on small bits of detritus around the nest.

So there’s no need to try to remove tiny mites from bees you find. The only time they can be a problem is in rare instances when hundreds pile onto a bee at once, impacting its ability to fly. I’ve seen photos documenting this, but it really is unusual. Honey bee mites are far larger by comparison… it would be like one of us having a rabbit-sized tick feeding off us!

What kind of bee is it?

There are so many different kinds of bees, but when you find a bee, it’s very often one of the more common types. If it’s large and fuzzy, it’s probably a bumble bee. If it’s really large and fuzzy, it’s probably a queen bumble bee (especially if it’s early spring). Honey bees are smaller by comparison, less fuzzy, and have that classic “striping” that we expect from seeing drawings of bees.

Honey bees need to get back to their hives for the night, but bumble bees can stay out a night or too just fine. Bumble bees are also capable of generating their own heat (which they do by decoupling their wings from their flight muscles and then “buzzing” to warm up)! Bumble bees are more likely to get caught out in bad weather, simply because they’re more likely to fly in cooler temperatures (even in the rain), whereas honey bees stay tucked in their hives on cold and rainy days.

So if you find a bee on a cold, wet day, it’s most likely a bumble bee. You can help a bumble bee by offering sugar-water and potentially keeping the bee overnight in a ventilated box (as above), especially if it’s late in the day and the weather is worsening. Release your bee the following morning once the sun is up, and offer sugar-water again to give the bee a good start to her day!

Honey bees are most often found in need of help, having fallen into a pool of water accidentally on a warm day. Honey bees collect water in order to cool their hives, hence they face more dangers from falling into pools and ponds while trying to get to the water. Honey bees can be helped by simply removing from the water and putting them in the sun (offering sugar-water helps too, especially if it almost drowned before you found the bee). If you consistently find yourself rescuing bees from pools of water near your home, try placing pebbles in a shallow dish and keeping that filled with water, especially on hot days!

These are all bumble bee queens:

These are all honey bee workers:

Feeding the bees 🌻Follow @savebees on Twitter 🐝

What do you think?

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420 responses to “How to help revive a cold or wet bee

  1. I found a bumble bee upside down late last night in my washing up bowl inside the house, no idea how he got there? After a sad, “oh no” I scooped him out and left him just there. I got up this morning and went to put him in the bin and he’s alive. Moving very slightly. I’ve tried sugar water. He now sat on a piece of kitchen roll in my lounge near the fire. I’m running out of ideas. I desperately want him to pull through.

    1. I would keep warming your bee up and offering sugar-water. If it’s at all warm today, try putting your bee in direct sunlight. Some times it just takes time to recover, depending on how long they struggled especially. I hope your bee pulls through!

      1. Hi Elise and thank you for your reply.unfortunately I had to leave for a meeting and left her out with some sugar water. I found her upside down and quite dead when I arrive home 3 hours later. I’m very sad. I know you can’t help them all. But it’s still affected me all the same. Wish I’d noticed some signs of life last night now. Could of kept her warm.

  2. I have just been outside and found a large bumble bee on my patio. It’s really struggling and the wind is really harsh. I put the bee in a really sheltered spot in the garden, gave it some sugar water and then read up on what else to do. I ventilated a shoe box, put some grass in it and went back to the bee but they had flown away. The sugar water had done the trick

  3. I found a bumblebee sitting on the pavement last night in the rain. She’s been quite loud, on and off, in her box with her sugar water, so I think she’s ok, but I’m not sure whether to release her yet. The forecast says it’s warm enough, with only intermittent rain expected, but 40mph wind all week! Will the wind make things too difficult out there for her, or is it still better than staying in a shoebox for days?

    1. Usually bees can handle windy conditions, but 40mph is intense. 20mph is hard on a bee, and honey bees (to take an example I know of) don’t usually forage when winds are above 12mph or so.

      With winds like that, I’d keep your bee in if possible, placing her box in as cool a location as possible (which will slow her down). But I’d take my cues from her to some extent too; if she is buzzing around her box a lot, that’s a concern. If it’s warm enough that she thinks she wants to leave, placing her in a sheltered spot outdoors in her open box might be another thing to try. Then I’d just keep a close eye on her right afterwards, in case I could do more to help.

  4. Hi, I have picked up a very tired and cold juvenile queen (I think) bumblebee; she was clinging onto the wire of my rabbit’s cage in the wind. She picked up on sugar water, put her back out yesterday morning but she was still in the same place last night so I’ve brought her back in. Not sure what to do as the weather is going to be so bad this week, it’s stormy and wet. I’ve put her in a pop-up butterfly tent with sugar water and some fresh flowers picked. I can easily give her new flowers and keep her topped on sugar water but I don’t know if I should put her back yet outside, even though the weather is so bad, as she has her work to do. Any advice please?

    1. I would take my cues from your bee (and yes, at this time of year, she’s likely to be a young bumble bee queen). She will be fine in a butterfly tent with sugar water and fresh flowers, even for a week if the weather is awful. If she were outdoors, she’d be huddled somewhere trying to wait out the bad weather too. If she shows signs of buzzing around, as though she seems, in your opinion, to want to be let out, then I would do so, but I’d also keep an eye on her in case she didn’t get far. You’re not keeping her from anything other than huddling somewhere outdoors though, awaiting better weather. This is a hard time of year for new bumble bee queens, as the weather is so unpredictable, so having a safe place to shelter is a very good thing.

      1. Thank you Elise, your advice is much appreciated and a bee lifesaver! Should I put her directly on to drink the sugar water/put her on the flowers in the butterfly tent, or will she find her own way? I don’t want to move her about if I don’t have to. She’s currently in the conservatory as I read down that you should keep her relatively coolish as central heating may confuse her and we want to warm her up before release. If she is not moving, does that mean she is hibernating again?

        1. How is your bee now? I am so sorry to be replying so late once again, I hope my message still arrives in time to be helpful. I think she will find her way to the sugar-water, they always seem to do so. Placing bees close to the sugar-water does help, but they’ll explore too, and they’ll know it as soon as they find it. The conservatory should be a perfect place, temperature-wise. If she’s not moving, it’s not hibernation, it’s more likely a period of inactivity brought on by the cool temperatures. She should be moving around a bit from time to time though. I’d place the sugar-water as close as possible to her, and then just keep an eye on her from time to time.

          1. Hi, she seems in no hurry to go anywhere! I tried warming up today in our house as the weather was ok. Her wings didn’t open further nor did she do any buzzing around. She seems to just walk a little bit around the butterfly tent. Not witnessed her having any sugar water as yet so a little worried that she may be hungry – don’t want to touch or force her though. We’ll try again tomorrow if weather is good. Should I put her back in the rabbit hutch where we found her (the rabbit has been moved!) or somewhere else in the garden with flowers? Also, when I do open the butterfly tent, sometimes she buzzes at me, and sometimes she goes down and lifts her legs up at me – defence mode?

            1. These are all great questions :) I would try her again tomorrow when the weather is good. I’d try placing her near the flowers and in direct sunlight. Perhaps, too, she’s sipping her sugar water while you’re not looking (I do hope so!) If she raises a leg, she’s telling you that you’re a bit too close, and she’s concerned. If she raises two legs, she’s getting really concerned at that point ;) Bumble bee communication, they do it with other bees too, but I’ve seen them do it when I get to close with a camera lens as well!

              1. Hi, still no signs of her wanting to go and we’re getting a bit worried. We are considering building her a brief nest in an old bird house and putting her out in it to give her a chance; she can snuggle down then if too cold – any thoughts on this please?

                1. It’ll be a “she” at this time of year, but yes. We don’t have tree bumble bees here, but looking at those queens, I think you’d know it if you had one, as they’re much larger than workers.

                  So if it’s a worker, then she ideally needs to find her way back to her colony. What happens when you put her in the warm sun with her enclosure open? Have you tried placing a few drops of sugar-water almost directly under her head, to see if that perhaps gets some energy into her, if that’s the problem?

                  I once heard someone who was fairly experienced with bumble bees in England suggest very gently stroking their thorax (middle section) to stimulate drinking (you should see a long proboscis extend from the bee). I almost never advise this because it’s important to be very gentle, and for all the advice came directly from someone trustworthy, they still weren’t certain if it worked enough to recommend, it just had sometimes for them.

                  1. Hi, I think the problem we have is that the weather has just been awful and cold over the past week and the poor little thing hasn’t had the opportunity to warm up in direct sunlight outside. She did yesterday with a sunbeam in the house all morning and didn’t move. Thankfully she did respond to sugar water last night which I fed her, but she’s hardly moved at all now from her position two days ago and is clinging onto the butterfly tent netting. I’ve checked the weather forecast and it should get to about 12 tomorrow, it’s not been above 8 – 9 for days. I think she is confused and disorientated? But I’m also worried if we keep her in any longer she may die. We have three options as I see it 1) keep her in until weather improves and hand feed her sugar water, but that’s been over a week now she’s been in, 2) pop her back in rabbit hutch, 3) pop her in bird box which we’ve prepared for her with bed of moss and rabbit hutch material (tree bumblebees nest in bird boxes so may be a goer), 4) pop her onto flowering area. Sorry to keep messaging you and I really appreciate your advice; most insects I have saved before have perked up in a day or so, but this little one doesn’t seem to know what to do.

                    1. Yes, most do perk up given some time, this one in particular sounds like she’s really been struggling. I’m honestly not quite sure what to advise. I don’t think there’s a risk of her dying because of keeping her, but I know what you mean, and it’s something I would worry about too. I think it’s likely important to keep getting sugar-water into her, and that’ll be harder to do if she’s out… especially if it attracts ants, which will also kill a weakened bee. If the weather improves as you hope tomorrow, I’d try getting her out there as soon as it’s warm and seeing what direct sunlight unfiltered through a window does for her. Otherwise, perhaps your idea of the little nest box is a good one… you could always keep checking on her, offering sugar-water from time to time, then taking it away again so that it doesn’t attract other critters that might harm her.

  5. My son and I were out walking our dog on a public footpath and cycle way when we came across a bumble bee right in the middle of the path. My son managed to tempt it onto his hand with the intention of putting it somewhere safe but the bumble bee had no interest in getting off his hand. I will add here that for whatever reason the bumble bee was unable to fly and seemed very sluggish with no energy. We did have very strong winds here yesterday so possibly it was too strong for the bee. Anyway my son then kept it on his hand as this footpath is very busy with dog walkers and cyclists and the bumble bee was more in danger of staying in the middle of the path. We kept on walking with my son still carrying the bumble bee. He did find a small flower which the bumble bee did start to feed from. While walking up our local main road there was a strong gust of wind which caught the bumble bee and blew it off my son’s hand and it didn’t even attempt to fly. My son tempted it onto his hand again and we decided to take it home in order to give some sugar water to hopefully strengthen the bumble bee as well as to warm it up before letting it go. Gradually the bee started to get more lively and my son put it in our back garden in a safe place so it could fly off when it was ready. Would it be able to find it’s way back to it’s colony?

    1. At this time of year, it’s very likely your bee was a queen bumble bee (did she look quite big?) It sounds as though you saved her little life, as being a cold bumble bee on a frequented footpath is not a safe place to bee.

      Assuming she was a queen bumble bee, your garden is a nice safe spot for her to begin her colony, or find a place nearby to start one. In very early spring, bumble bee queens are emerging from hibernation, and foraging during the day while they look for a good spot underground (often abandoned mouse holes) in which to start a new colony of their own. It’s quite likely she wouldn’t have started her own colony as of yet, and so moving her to another place shouldn’t matter.

  6. Hi, I just found a bee on the path, put it in a shoe box with holes with a few drops of sugar water on a spoon, unfortunately it stumbled and rolled on the sugar water. I am worried her wings will not ‘work’ tomorrow if she does recover some strength overnight inside & tries to fly. is it Ok to drip tiny drops of lukewarm water on her back tomorrow morning if she seems to have recovered and see if she wants to fly away? (only if it is sunny & warm’ish).

    1. Yes, it is alright to drop some (not very warm, perhaps just above room temperature) water on your bee. Though she’ll need to dry off somewhere warm before she can fly after that, and be very conservative about it, just enough to help dilute any sugar. But see if she doesn’t clean herself up; so long as they have the energy, they do a pretty good job of it themselves.

  7. Hi Elise, what a lovely website :-)!! I just have a question about a bumble bee I found today. I always pick them up – love them so so much! Today it’s been stormy weather and I found a bumble bee in a pile of water. Luckily when I checked if she was still alive – she was but only barely. I first put her on a near flower but on the second walk I saw she had fallen so I took her home to dry and warm (gave some hunny – didn’t realize it should’ve been sugar water! But she didn’t want it) but soon became very active and didn’t really want to stay in one place so I decided to bring her back to the place I found her in case she had made a home already! But now doubting if that was the right decision as not sure if they can survive a stormy rain?! She didn’t fly yet but kept buzzing at home and just seemed to want to be active. Once outside I placed her on a flower that she was eating from and just kept hanging there. But can bees hang on well in storm?! Just feel so bad I didn’t decide to keep her inside now I’ve read they can stay away from their home a few nights! So to make a long story short :-)! Can a bumble bee survive storm? Thank you!!! Steph

    1. I’m so happy to hear you always pick up struggling bees… and putting them back, re-energized, right where you found them is an excellent thing to do. Yes, they can survive storms… I’ve seen bumble bees here hanging, dripping wet, their fluff all in spikes, beneath flowers. Even when they’re cold, and go into a kind of torpor, their little feet lock onto what they’re hanging onto. They typically hang on just beneath a flower to shield themselves from the worst of the rain. I do take my cues from them too… if they really want to go, I feel they should go, and so long as they leave warm and full of energy, I would imagine they’ll fare well. One of the reasons I suggest bringing them in, but keeping them some place cool and sheltered, is so that they aren’t inclined to leave until the conditions are more favorable. But plenty of bees manage out in bad weather, even if they spend a night getting soaked; so long as there’s sun in the coming few days, they’ll warm up, and putting her on a flower is ideal in this case, since she’ll have an easy food source nearby to build her energy once the storm passes.

      In fact, the photo of a bee on this page up above is after a late summer’s heavy rain, and there were numerous bumble bees I discovered that morning looking like this beneath all the flowers. I turned the photo above upside-down so that it looks right when you view the page, but actually the bee was upside-down, holding on beneath the flower!

      1. Hi Elise, thank you so much for your kind reply and the lovely work you do :-)! I did go back to look for her but nowhere to be found, neither on the ground or anything so I think/ hope she took off and found a good place to rest! Though on my way back found another little buddy that had a broken wing! Have been housing him for a few days now and seems happy with the flowers I got him! Unfortunately he can’t fly anymore so I guess I have a little addition to the family!!!

  8. Hi, Elise. This site is amazing and Ive learned so much. Yesterday I found a little bee inside my house, so I put it in a little container with holes at the top and named him Gideon. Then I gave him some sugar-water to eat. Today Gideon seemed healthy and ready to go, he was buzzing inside the container and walking around, so I tried to take him outside. I live in Norway so its a little cold here now, around 3-7 °C, and when I brought him outside and tried to lay him down on the ground he stopped moving. I know I he is alive but he seemed so cold, so I decided to bring him back inside.

    My question is, when can I release him without having him die of the cold? The temperature the next days is going to be 8 °C at the most. I really want Gideon to survive and I hope you read this!

    1. I am so so sorry I haven’t replied sooner… we’ve been snowed in without power here. I hope Gideon is alright still! 8C would probably be near enough, so long as Gideon is a bumble bee, since they can generate their own heat in a special way (decoupling their wings from their flight muscles and then vibrating—which looks a lot like shivering—to us). I would take your cues from Gideon… you did the right thing trying to take your bee outside when buzzing and seeming ready to go. But if it’s too cold out, it won’t hurt to house Gideon for a few days with sugar water. Just keep your bee in a relatively cool location if it’s still very cold out, only because you don’t want your bee to be buzzing around a container, that might cause wing damage. It won’t hurt if your bee is “in sync” with the cold outdoors, protected from predators and freezing temperatures within the box you provide, and with food as needed. I hope my message is not too late, again I’m so so sorry I wasn’t able to reply sooner!

  9. Hi Elise, Thanks for the wonderful site :) I’ve managed to save the wet wing bumble. It was getting dark and he wasn’t a good condition, I’ve covered him with alstroemerias but little chilly tonight. I’ve googled and found this site and I’ve put him into a shoebox and followed your instructions then cover the box with warm clothes in outside + pray. Next morning, thanks that he is still alive, I put him on the flower petal with lots sunshine and he started buzzing the wings and off to the sky.
    I am so pleased that I’ve found your site :) many many thanks !

    1. I’m so pleased to hear your story :) Yes, it turns to have been important to share this information here, I’ve talked to so many different people as a result, and many bee lives have been saved in the process! I think it also helps folks build stronger connections to all bees too, when they take care of an individual bee :) Many thanks to you for caring about your bee, searching the web, and releasing your revived bee happily!

  10. Hi Elise, thank you so much for this website. I have a strange situation right know and was hoping your advice could guide me. I don’t know if this happened to anyone else here in the comments but here I go: Thursday 14th, around 10 pm and 3° C outside, a honeybee appeared in my room. I didn’t know anything about bees at that point so I thought I’d just put it outside, on my balcony table, so it can fly away. Few minutes later I went back to the balcony to throw a plastic bottle in my recycling bin and noticed the bee was still there, on its back, not moving. I felt so bad, guilty, horrible. It was just fine when it was in my room few minutes ago. So I took its little body back inside my apartment and warmed it up with my breath. Hallelujah, it was alive! I searched for infos on the web and found your fantastic website. I followed all your instructions and learned a lot about these fragile fellows. I fed it water with sugar, placed it in a big shoebox. It was Valentine’s day, I had flowers so I put them inside the box too, with drops of sweet water on a miniature plate. I waited until the weather would be kinder and fed her until then. I released the bee today, Saturday, in the middle of the afternoon. It was 15°C outside. I was happy to see it fly away, strong and pretty. I went back to my beeless life…
    It’s 10pm now, still Saturday and the bee came back to my room! It’s 5°C outside and it’s pitch black. I’ve just put it back in the box and fed it sugar water.
    I don’t understand why it came back. I’m sad it couldn’t find its hive. I guess it memorized my place and came back so it wouldn’t freeze. I hope it won’t end up dying here, under my care :(
    Sorry for the long story. I’m going to release it again tomorrow when it’ll be 14°C. But it might come back gain. Do you have any advice or just insights about this ? Hope you’ll read this! You’ve already helped so much, thanks !

    1. That’s a very unusual story. She should be able to find her hive just fine, since you’re releasing her where you found her. I’m keen to know whether you have a reappearing bee in the days that follow tomorrow’s release.

      Could it have been another bee? Perhaps that’s just as unlikely as it being the same bee. Definitely, she could have memorized your location as a resource, though I’ve never in all my time of having given this advice (and followed it myself) heard of bees returning after being released!

      Do let me know what happens. I do hope she leaves you strong and happy once more, and returns to her hive, leaving you to your otherwise beeless life once again :) I would hope all is fine with her hive, but even if there is some issue (or if it’s a managed colony that’s been moved by a beekeeper), she should be able to join another hive (so long as she comes bringing pollen or nectar… which she would know to do, I’m sure).

      1. I’m sad to hear this is unusual. That would mean things are not looking good for the bee. I’ve just released her, it’s 13°C and very sunny here (in Geneva, Switzerland). Crossing my fingers she’ll find her way home. I considered the idea of it being a different bee, but I too believe it would be even stranger. Could it be that there’s a beehive in my walls or around the building and this bee is a scout bee that just gets trapped by the sudden change in weather and can’t return. What is it do you think I should do if it comes back tonight ? Would a reappering bee be a sufficient reason to alert some competent authorities ? I doubt it though…
        I’ll tell you if she comes back, or hopefully doesn’t!

        1. Ah, sorry, I think I worded that badly (tell me if I’m still missing your meaning though)! By unusual, I meant I’ve not heard of bees returning to their rescuers for food and shelter… I didn’t mean that it’s unusual for folks to find them in trouble and in need of a helping hand. Though things are still not looking good for bees, overall.

          If you were to see many bees near your building, then yes, it’s possible there might be a hive in the walls. They do tend to make their presence obvious though, since there are tens of thousands of them!

          I don’t think one reappearing bee would be sufficient to notify anyone, but look around and see if you see any “bee traffic”… when there are many bees coming and going from a hive on sunny warm days, they’re hard to miss :)

          If she comes back tonight… well, I’d have the sugar water and her box ready just in case, and let me know, because it’d be time to do a little experiment if so! But I hope this time she finds her (or another good) hive. Warm, sunny weather should good for that.

          1. Hi again! I wanted to let you know that the little bee didn’t come back since the second release and has hopefully found a hive. Thank you so much for your guidance. What an opportunity to learn about these lovely creatures!
            Best wishes!

  11. Hello
    Found a bee crawling today. I took it home and gave it sugar & water. It had a bit of it. I put it outside but it was still struggling.
    It’s now cold outside so I’m not too sure what to do with it. I would appreciate your advice.

    1. I hope this email reaches you in good time still. I would keep your bee in a ventilated box overnight, and then in the morning, once it begins warming up a bit, offer her more sugar water and try warming her up indoors first before releasing her.

        1. Just as a quick note, I would put the box somewhere not too warm overnight, and then warm her up in the morning to release her around perhaps 10am or so (that tends to be a good time for bees, after the day has been warming up a bit already). I like to keep them somewhat cool overnight, so they don’t get confused and think it’s time to buzz off, while they’re still enclosed. The idea of keeping them overnight is to keep them away from predators while they’re so sluggish, if they were caught out in the cold unexpectedly (as happens at this time of year). But we still want to mimic the day/night cycle, letting them stay coolish overnight. Then, warming her up artificially in the morning will help give her a boost to start her day, that’s the idea!

  12. I found bee this morning, I assume she’s an early riser. She was barely moving when I found her. Since bringing her in she started moving and twitching, but I think she might be injered. Her abdomen looks exposed and a joint in her back leg looks like it produced a white/yellow gelatinous lump. She also had attempted to drink any sugar water. I’ve put her in a cardboard box but I have to leave soon for a few hours. I’ll leave her some foliage and water, but is there anything more I can do?

    1. It doesn’t sound good. I wish there was something to do in the case of injury, but the healing has to come from within the insect. There’s a chance she can repair the wound herself, given time and rest… at least for her leg, if the injury is not too jagged or wide, cells around it will secrete endocuticle to patch the gap over time. I’m not sure about her abdomen though, if that is injured.

      I think the best you can do is to make her comfortable, keeping sugar-water available. I wish there was more to do, but there’s no ‘bandage’ that would work that I know of (I have read of folks saving tarantulas from dying by applying vaseline to seal the wound, but tarantulas molt again which makes it easier for them to recover; bees do not shed their exoskeletons for fresh ones like spiders do).

  13. This site is awesome, thank you!! I found this bumble bee this morning on my porch (near Charlotte, NC), brought her in, put her in a container near my plants with warm plant light, offered sugar/water mix but couldn’t tell if she ate. She definitely is moving around now as she was not moving at all when I found her. We had a weird few days of 70’s which I’m sure messed with lots of the wildlife, but now is only going to get up to the 40’s (F) for the next two days and 30’s at night. Forecast calls for 70 Wednesday but 35 Thursday night, should I let her go if she can fly even if it is below freezing at night?

    1. Yes, these “false springs” certainly impact wildlife and plantlife. Here’s what I would do. I’d keep her in a ventilated box with a small amount of sugar/water mix available (not much though, since we don’t want her walking through it or falling in to it). I’d put that box somewhere similar to outdoor temperatures, but without the possibility of freezing (and make sure it’s safe from mice and such)… a utility room works well, as would a garage so long as there were no mice. This way, temperatures are similar to what she’d experience outside, but she’ll be protected from freezing (ideally she’d still be hibernating, had the warm weather not awoken her).

      On Wednesday morning, or your next day above 50 (later in the morning, once it warms up a bit), I’d release her, first warming her up near your plant light, and offering more sugar-water. I realize it’ll get down in temperatures again that night, but it sounds as though it won’t quite freeze, and so she should have the time (and energy) to sort out where she wants to stay that night too. Bumble bees are resourceful too; I’ve seen queen bumble bees staying the night inside closed crocuses, waiting for better weather to come. They also seek shelter under a bed of fallen leaves at night, after emerging from hibernation. If you can release her near where some of the earliest spring flowers are or will be, and perhaps near a covering of fallen leaves, that’d be helpful too, as the less distance she has to go, the better.

      Check on her several times a day in her box. Another reason to keep her at cool temperatures while you’re waiting for better weather, is so that she doesn’t get confused and buzz around, thinking it’s warm, when it wouldn’t be if she was out. She’ll be fine, simply slowed down, at cool temperatures. So long as there’s some sugar-water as sustenance if she needs, she’ll likely be safer waiting in her box a few days.

      By the way, you can tell if she is drinking if she unfurls her very long, red tongue… it’s almost the length of the bee, sometimes!

    1. That is very strange. Do you know if they’re honey bees? Are they all huddled together, or are they dispersed? If they’re all huddled together, then they may be a swarm of honey bees, in which case the best thing to do is to call a local beekeeper to collect them… but it’s the wrong time of year for swarming. Then again, it’s the wrong time of year for any large number of bees to be out, especially on an ice rink.

  14. Hi, thanks for your info on bees! I have a little honey bee I found yesterday that I thought was dead stuck to my outdoor pillows. Turns out he was trying to dry off or rest. I moved him to a sunny flower but then it started raining later and he was still there. I moved him under the patio again and he was still not moving around. I thought to bring him in since it was quite cold and starting to rain harder. I gave a small bit of honey water in a 1/2 teaspoon (before I read about the disease spread) and closed the lid. The bee was clumsy and climbed up the side and fell into the honey water. This I’m sure made it so it had to stay longer to clean its wings. It poured rain all day so I kept it inside and over night with some greenery and sugar water. Now that it’s morning it still doesn’t seem like it can fly. It also seems almost like it can’t see, it climbed a stick and was at the top reaching for more stick to climb and it was the top. I want it to fly away but it just crawls. Any suggestions?

    1. I’m guessing you’ve tried warming your bee up to see if that helps it fly? I wish I had another suggestion. How are the wings looking? I ask because it’s possible the honey water still coats them a bit, which would make flying much more difficult or even impossible. I’m never eager to suggest it, because ideally bees clean themselves far better than we would, but I have known people to have luck with dropping very small amounts of slightly warm but mostly room-temperature water (with a q-tip or similar) on the wings in order to dissolve/ wash away anything stuck to them. I’d also be interested to know if the edges of the wings look tattered; that would give us an approximate age of your honey bee.

  15. Hi – thank you so much for the helpful info! I just saved a big bumblebee queen from the snow yesterday in London (UK). She is fine this morning and wanted even to take off – the problem is, its 5degress Celsius max outside, and supposed to stay like this for a week or so… Should i Just keep her confined to the shoebox?

    1. 5C looks to be 41F. While I usually advise 10C of 50F as a minimum, it’s possible you might wish to release her sooner anyway. It’s a bit of a hard call to make… and it might depend on the flowers you see out. Are there any snowdrops, hellebores, or winter-flowering honeysuckle in the neighborhood? I always worry keeping bees for long, but so long as you keep her fed on sugar water, she should be fine. I like to put things in the box of interest to the bee too, just for their own psychological well-beeing. If you do have flowers out right now, and if you see bees on them, then I’d be inclined to release her, especially if it’s sunny even though cold. Bumble bees can warm themselves up too (by decoupling their flight muscles and vibrating them), so especially early queen bumble bees can withstand colder temperatures than otherwise.

      1. Ah thank you so much!
        It was a crisp clear day so I did release her as it seemed she really wanted to go out…
        I literally live right in the city so there is not a lot of flowers I can look out for, but right across from me is a church with a little garden/park area and they do have a couple of flowers there. So I hope that mother nature knows best even if it is going to be really cold the coming days (but clear and sunny). Many thanks again :)

  16. I found a bee and it looks to be dead but the limbs didnt look like there was rigamortis. Also Idk if they get that when dead. It’s little tongue was sticking out. I feel so sad for it. I hoped it wasn’t dead, its on my table outside and hasn’t moved for two days. I will try to keep fresh water outside like tbe article says.

    1. I’m sorry to say that when their tongues are sticking out like that, especially with no movement for several days, it’s typically a sign they’re no longer alive. It is definitely true that sometimes bees will look dead to us, and yet simply be so sluggish that we can’t tell they’re alive… I’ve spoken to people who were sure they had a dead bee, which subsequently “revived” with warmth and sugar-water. But the bee you’re describing does sound sadly dead. I’m not sure why it’s the case, but the few times I’ve seen dead bees, their tongues have been outstretched. It’s not a sure sign of death, since they’ll put their tongues out to drink too, but leaving their tongues out for long periods is never a good sign.

  17. Thank you so much for this helpful advice. It’s late January and I found a sluggish bumble bee on the road and moved it to the curb but then felt sad about the cold weather moving in and brought so brought lovely bee home and put her in a ventilated box with sugar water. The bee seems fine, but the weather is dreadful freezing fog. Bee has not tried to fly at all. We are planning to release her when it gets above 50 (if it gets above 50 today). I am worried about how she will find food outdoors with no flowers in bloom except hellebore and snow drops.

    1. I am glad you’ve brought your bee in, and given her some sugar water. Coming out of hibernation too early in the year (with insufficient flowering resources) is definitely an issue. I don’t know your local weather patterns, but it might indeed be on the early side for your bumble bee. The good news is that hellebore and snowdrops are good flowers for bumble bees, and if you have those already, then more flowers should be showing up within a few weeks. Also, if you happen to have winter-flowering honeysuckle nearby, that’d be helpful too.

      If you can find a place to release her where there are flowers in bloom right now, that would certainly be ideal. Bumble bees can generate their own heat (by decoupling their wings from their flight muscles and vibrating them—it’d look like shivering to us—in order to warm up). If it’s above 50 (even a bit below 50), she should be alright, but I’d keep her indoors in the freezing fog, with sugar-water to sustain her in the meantime. If you warm her up well before releasing her, that should be helpful too.

      1. Thank you, Elise. Bee has been in our home for 2 days due to near-freezing temps in Oregon (let out of box during the day in the sink, small attempts to fly, plenty of fresh sugar water in a shallow dish nearby). Today it’s sunny and above 50 so we will release in some soft soil near the hellebore and snowdrops. I did some Reiki for the bee and hope she will find her way. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond!

  18. Oh my god thank you SO much, I found a sluggish bee in the driveway – we’re in florida and when it’s cold it happens quickly. He/she was so sluggish and I brought him in the house, made a little shallow bowl out of tin foil, put a few drops of sugar water in it, and he drank it! Then he got super energetic, so I covered the container he was in and let him fly away outside. Thank you SO much ❤️

  19. Hey! Thank you so much for creating this page! I discovered a female carpenter bee on the ground yesterday, she was super sluggish and almost unresponsive. After taking her home and giving her maple syrup she seemed to recover a little (though she still is not flying :( ) I went to work today, and when I returned she seemed very hyper but in a bad way, if that makes any sense. She’s walking around with her but tilted inwards so she’s having a hard time and keeps flipping on her back, but she still won’t fly. I don’t really know what to do or how to help her…I’m hoping you could help me :)

    1. Well, maple syrup is a bit like brown sugar, it’s not ideal for bees, it can give them digestive troubles. Try offering her some sugar-water to flush the maple syrup from her system.

      Where are you, in terms of weather? I ask because typically carpenter bees should be hibernating in tunnels over winter. So it’s a bit surprising to see her out, unless you recently had a warm spell?

      I wish I could give you more advice, but there are a number of other factors that might be causing her erratic behavior, and for which we’ll be able to do nothing: notably various infections and parasites.

      If I were you, I’d keep her comfortable and keep an eye on her progress to see if it’s looking more or less positive over time. If the weather looks favorable, you could also see how she does outside. I’m a bit concerned given your description that there’s something amiss internally though that we don’t know about.

      1. Im in the middle east and it’s quite cold here. about 12 degrees Celsius during the day, at the highest. It’s been really cold lately though saturday the sun was shining out and the sky was blue. Yesterday when i found her it was cold and cloudy, though yesterday morning was quite sunny.
        I just finished giving her sugar water though I must note that after my last comment she went from being overly erratic to hardly responsive, she had folded her legs in. At this current moment she’s quite sluggish, but trying to move around a bit. I’m praying she makes it through the night because tomorrow should be sunny. Thank you so much for your quick response Elise :)

  20. So glad I found this site I found what I think was a queen bumble bee yesterday evening she was inside a box that was in the garden holding the Christmas Beer !! She was very weak and cold so I looked up how to help and found this site, I followed all the advice and kept her in the kitchen overnight, this morning I thought she’d died but moved the grass she was in and she moved so after putting her outside for nearly 2hrs she wasn’t moving so bought her inside again turned the heating up, fed her a flower and some sugar water and within half hour she was buzzing furiously lol so let her outside and off she went Feeling pretty proud of myself.

  21. Such a great page, thank you! I found what I think was a queen bumble bee yesterday who was exhausted and cold. I found your page so brought her inside to my bathroom in a box and gave her some sugar water. Within 2 hours she was buzzing around rather angrily in the box so felt it safe to release her even though it was getting dark. I’m concerned she was out of hibernation so early but after some sugar water seemed more than capable of making her own way!

    1. That’s wonderful you helped her out! Especially because that’s the most imminent danger of coming out of hibernation too soon: not finding food sources. She sounds like she left with plenty of energy though, which is perfect, as she should be able to dig herself back into the soil somewhere :)

  22. This is such a lovely page I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Very informative but with a light heart and humour. I saved a bee that was caugh the a spiders Web and performed Web releasing surgery on her for over an hour with 2 cocktail sticks. She was very glad of the help with my determination and 2 cocktail sticks I managed to remove most of the sticky Web only 1 front leg was still trapped. I’m hoping it will free up naturally. I have kept her in a shoe box with leaves and sugar water for 2 days now as it is so cold and she didn’t want to fly off the day after her ordeal. I’m happy to keep her as long as necessary but hope she can survive the winter in my cool bathroom. I do check on her from time to time and she’s burried herself under the leaves. Shound I just let her stay there till spring?? I just want to do whats best and would love to see her fly off when the times right any advise would be appreciated. thanks.x (I’m in UK )

    1. I appreciate your comments on my page!

      My answer depends to an extent on what type of bee you have there. Is she large, fuzzy, and bumble bee-like (compare photos above), or thin, small, striped, and less fuzzy (like a honey bee)?

      If she’s a honey bee, she should definitely get back to her hive soon, where she’ll keep warm in a ball of bees throughout winter. I’d warm her up and offer her sugar-water, then release her towards the best part of the next decent day (not rainy nor icily cold or gusty).

      If she’s a bumble bee queen, she should really be hibernating underground. If she’s out of hibernation early, it’s important she get some food into her (as you’ve done). Then ideally she should go back to hibernating. I’m honestly not sure what to advise here if you have a bumble bee queen, to encourage her returning to that state.

      If she is a bumble bee queen, my inclination is that it’s safest to release her, well-fed and warmed up first indoors, on a decent day (not rainy nor icily cold or gusty), where she can then find her own place underground to return to a state of hibernation. When people accidentally dig them up gardening in winter, I’ve read that it’s safe to put them back in the soil loosely, and that’s another thought, digging her a little spot and seeing if she’s interested: I’ve also read that they typically choose hibernation spots with well-drained soil on a north-facing bank (which helps them avoid coming out of hibernation early), so you might try releasing her near such a location.

      Bumble bees are able to generate their own heat with their wing muscles, and so they can be out and about at lower temperatures than honey bees. But I think keeping her indoors until spring, even in a cool room, might interfere with her lifecycle.

      I’m sure she’s very thankful for being saved from the web :) She should be able to clean any remaining pieces off herself given a bit of time and energy.

  23. Just fed a honeybee in Bulphan, found it in my workplace, fed some warm sugar water, it ate for long time, then started to wash then have a walk and flapping of wings. Took bout hour and half then when wasn’t looking flew away. Beautiful x

  24. Can this be used in the same case for a normal wasp? I’m in Utah, and it’s very snowy right now. And 20 degrees. I found a wasp on the verge of being frozen to death. Couldn’t let the little fella die… so please a little info is much needed:) Thank You!

    1. Yes it’ll help a wasp too, they drink nectar for food, and they’re also excellent pollinators! Everything above should work for a wasp too… bees are, in the end, just a very close family relation to wasps (basically vegetarian wasps, for the most part, with a bit more fluff). Note that even though I say wasps are not vegetarian, they do still drink nectar, they just use meat (caterpillars and such) as protein for their young.

  25. We have rescued a large begraggled bee, she is looking a lot better after some TLC and sugar water, but we have noticed she has a lot of very small white mites crawling on her. Is this bad?

    1. Tiny mites on large bees are fine. Large bees are typically bumble bees. They often have very small mites that “hitchhike” on them. The mites end up in bumble bee nests, but they don’t do any harm there, they simply eat detritus. These mites are completely different from the ones you read about in the news. The ones in the news (Varroa destructor) only live on honey bees, and they’re huge by comparison… it would be as though one of us had a flea the size of a rabbit on us (not a nice thought)!

  26. Me again, Elise. I’m afraid she has passed away. I’m heart broken. Thank you for your wonderful website. Even though I didn’t end up with the result I was hoping for, it was very helpful.

    1. I am so sorry to hear that. It’s not an easy time of year for bees to be out, and we never know what they’ve gone through before we find them in their weakened states. One can take comfort that she passed away with food and warmth, safe from any predators, and not in the cold and rain. I am so glad to hear you’re looking out for our little buzzing friends.

  27. Hello Elise,
    The little bumble bee I’ve been trying to help with the aid of your website for the last two hours has rolled onto her side. She has eaten (honey – I gave it to her before I found your website) and she has sat on my hands and arms for the last hour and a half. I was just getting ready to put her in a box when she stretched and rolled onto her side and I’m worried that I’m losing her. She is still alive at the moment.
    It has been mild here this morning but raining very hard off and on. I don’t know if she is exhausted or damaged by the rain?
    Is there anything else I can do?

  28. Dear Elise, thank you very much for your precious website. I found a bee on the edge of my kitchen window at 1 pm today. She looked sluggish and unhealthy. I live in France, in a suburban neighborhood, with a relatively average amount of vegetation. The weather today was cloudy and about 12 degrees Celsius. I took the honeybee inside and followed your instructions, feeding it with water and sugar. I hope it was the right choice to use white sugar from the brand Béghin Say, as it is all I have. It is not organic, but seems safe… The tap water in my area having been proven to contain traces of heavy metals, I use water from a natural mineral source of the Pyrenees, with a TDS of 30 ppm, that I buy from an organic store for daily consumption, which is also what I used for the recipe. I dunked a thin wooden stick in it and slowly stretched it to the honeybee. Her tongue was sticking out from her head as you describe. It looked very sweet, as if a baby was feeding on a baby-bottle. I took pictures I wish I could show. A moment later she seemed to have regained her energy, she was buzzing and flying across my room, and went to stick to the glass window from time to time. About an hour later I decided to release her. Before she leaves, I lured her one last time with a piece of paper and fed her some more sugar-water. The weather being a bit cold and very few sun rays I was hesitant at first, I hope 12 degrees is enough and that she has found her way… What do bees do in such case when isolated? Are they able to join other bees in a winter cluster?

    1. You did all the right things, it’s so good to hear such a story :)

      12C should be fine for her, especially well-fed and warmed up again. The chances are that she found her way back to her hive just fine, thanks to your help! And to answer your other question, even were she not to find her way back to her own hive, she’d very likely be taken in at another. It’s more common that people imagine, honey bees finding their ways into hives other than their own.

      There will, indeed, be a warm cluster of honeybees inside each hive during winter. The queen will be in the middle of the cluster, and the worker bees will continually be making their way from the cooler periphery towards the center in order to keep themselves warm and cozy.

      1. Your words bring comfort to my heart. I wish I could do more for the little fairies. I’m currently saving money to move to the countryside, and I’ve been thinking of learning as much as I can about them, having some beehives and a flower garden where they would thrive…
        Thank you, again, for your website and golden information, and for them. :)
        Best wishes from France

  29. Thanks for your wonderful website! I found a carpenter bee on my front porch Monday morning. It was unseasonably warm this weekend and tricked the poor guy or gal into leaving then got too cold to make it back. I brought it inside and thought it was too late to do anything. Today it was suprisingly lively. I gave it some water and some honey. I will send it out tomorrow as it will be 47, the next time it will even get close to that is 10 days away. I don’t think I can keep it alive that long.

  30. Hello, I live in Central Ohio on a small partially wooded plot. Today is 12/3 and yesterday we had an unseasonably warm and sunny day hitting a high of around 63. The temperature and conditions today were low 40’s and rainy. When I came home from work around 4 PM, I saw a honey bee on the door frame. It was so unresponsive that I thought it was dead and then I detected a hint of movement. So I decided to bring it into the basement to see if I could ‘thaw it out’. Meantime, I did a little googling and came across this website. The bee was becoming a little more responsive, but I had to run out on some errands and when I came back, it was almost non-responsive again. So I tried the sugar water suggestion using a toothpick instead of an eye dropper. I was practically ‘spoon feeding’ it. About an hour later, I now had a bee buzzing around in a plastic gallon jug. SO now the question is, what are the chances of it surviving in a typical December in Ohio? While it is not impossible, it is hard to tell when the next time we will get a temperate day we just had. I can’t imagine it surviving in a milk jug until spring time… Can honey bees survive long enough to get home in say 45-50 degree temps? That is a far more likely scenario but again, this is Ohio… who knows what kind of weather we are going to have?

    1. Yes, honey bees can fly in 45-50 degree temperatures (just about, so long as they’re warmed up first), so she should still be able to make it home to her hive. I would warm her up and spoon-feed (with a toothpick, since that worked for you!) some sugar-water in the morning, so she’s as warmed up and well-fed as she can be, ideally buzzing and ready to go. I would say aim to feed and release her later in the morning, rather than early morning, to give her the best possible chance (hopefully it won’t be raining either). She certainly does need to get back to her hive soon, she won’t make it through winter otherwise. These unseasonable spells can fool bees into leaving their hives in search of flowers, when they’d be far better off staying put. If you keep her overnight though (she won’t be able to navigate in the dark anyway), and warm her and feed her in the morning before releasing her, she’ll have a good chance of getting back safely to her hive :)

      1. Well, I have to say I am afraid for the little critter now. The 10 day forecast doesn’t show temperatures going over 40 until next week with the highest temp going to 45. Of course, hard to tell what will really happen and I will keep a close eye on the approaching forecasts and hope for a better break. If the temps don’t break sometime in the next two weeks, chances are that it will be March before they come up enough. I would probably rather risk turning it loose in a 40-45 degree day and try to catch the peak, than wait for something more ideal. Thank you for your feedback and I will keep my fingers crossed and hope for better weather than what is predicted.

        1. I would definitely say to release rather than not, even with the lower temperatures. There’s risk either way, but she won’t do well away from her hive. She can live on sugar-water for awhile, but it’s certainly not ideal (it doesn’t cover bees’ full nutritional needs). If you can get her warmed up, fed, and buzzing during the middle of the day, when it’s not raining, I’d say to release her as soon as possible.

          1. One last question – is there a temperature that you would consider to be too low? It is nowhere near as feisty as it was yesterday after it recovered so I would like to release as soon as possible. However, I think they are only calling for a high of 35 – 39 tomorrow, possibly rain. Thursday may be better, I am just concerned it won’t make it that long. By the way, I have seen suggestions about giving them honey, and I do have real honey (Nature Nate’s raw/unfiltered). Would that be better for the little buzzard? (I guess that makes two last questions)

            1. I wish I had a better answer for you, but 50F is honestly pushing it already for a honey bee. 55F is considered the minimum temperature, one can get away with it a bit lower at times, but only if they’re warmed up and well-fed (and don’t have far to go). This is a very hard question to answer as a result. Your question about honey is somewhat more straightforward, insofar as I’d advise against it generally, because it can be a vector for spreading bee diseases. On the other hand, perhaps this is an extraordinary case, because if you’re going to be keeping her for a few days, she might be happier with honey. Try putting something of interest in her container too (some kind of plant-life)… there’ve been studies done on primitive emotions in honey bees, and although it sounds perhaps odd to say it, I’d try to keep her spirits up while she awaits better weather. Honey bees particularly are very social insects, so that’s an added strain on her right now.

              I wish I had a better answer for you. Honestly, she’ll freeze if you let her out in the 30s. Perhaps the mid to high 40s might possibly be ok briefly, but we’d have to hope she was very close to home already, and that the sun was shining ideally.

  31. I am rather discouraged. For several years I have been feeding my Humming Birds. As winter moves in I bring their feeders in for the night, put them back out just before dawn providing a warm breakfast. Almost every night for the last week there have been bees who appear to almost be stuck on the feeders when I bring them in. I have managed to gently remove about half a dozen since reading your article, have followed your suggestions, tried leaving them alone and trying to help, but not a single one has survived. They last for several hours inside but always on a down hill curve. I wonder if its not kinder to gently remove them outside in the cold and let the winter night take them gently away as oppose to what looks to be suffering. It saddens me greatly to have them die.

    What else can I do?

    1. I am very sorry to hear that. For many situations, the advice on this page will work well. But it isn’t universally applicable; there are times when bees have other things wrong with them, or are out at such the wrong time of year, that I agree the kindest thing may well be to let them pass away as naturally as possible without intervention.

      One of the reasons I advocate intervention at all is that it does work in many cases, and when it does, it brings people closer to the small lives they save, and as a result closer to bees more generally. I am genuinely sorry to hear of your experiences; it pains me too, to witness the deaths of these creatures first-hand. Honey bees in particular are attracted to humming bird feeders, and I’d imagine that those are the bees you’re finding. They do not do well away from their hives, even for a night, though it can turn out well for them occasionally. Clearly they would have already drunk plenty of sugar water too, since they were feeding at your feeders. Sugar water is not an ideal substance for bees; it lacks the various nutritional extras that they get from real nectar (I advocate it only in emergency situations, to revive bees that are low on energy). But if they drink continually from your feeders, they will not be as healthy as they should be.

      It is, as you know, hard to prevent them from drinking at the humming bird feeders though :( I do not know what advice to give, other than to sympathize with you, and to suggest there’s nothing more you could have done in these cases. If they choose to come to your feeders again and again, you might as well leave them to their choice I suppose. It must be a difficult world for bees, to be provided food that seems like food, and yet really isn’t that good for them… akin to our fast food. But it helps the humming birds, and we make these choices to try to help the creatures that we can.

  32. Hi :)
    So I rescued 5 little bees and an other one a bit bigger&fuzzier than the others from our swimming pool.
    It was already late afternoon when I got them out of the water,they were hardly moving,so I decided to put them in 2 separate jars…wasnt sure if I could keep them together.
    Put some paper towels on the bottom so it would soak up the water from them and gave them some honey.(I just read your site a few hours after I rescued them and now I know sugary water would have been a better choice,I hope I didnt cause any damage and spread some disease)
    It is cold(9C) and dark outside,plus it’s raining so I am not sute what to do.
    They all seem better,they all had some honey and now they are buzzing around.
    Seems like they want to get out of the jar(I poked some holes on the top so there is air flow)
    I am not sure if I should let them go no or wait till the morning?
    I am also not sure what kind of bees they are so if they are honey bees then they have to go back to their hives for the night,Im just afraid they wont make it in this weather!
    Thank you for your help,I loved yout website,very helpful :):)

    1. If it’s dark and raining, I’d say hold onto them for the night. If they’re buzzing around, I assume they’re somewhere warmish indoors. Try putting their containers in an outdoor area overnight, and the coolness (and dark) should naturally slow them down a lot. Much as I like to take my cues from their behavior usually in deciding when to release them, I think it’s clear they’ll be better off leaving in the morning once the sun (hopefully) is up and it’s (again hopefully) not raining. They do use light for navigation, and so that’s certainly a consideration, as well as the rain, which makes it difficult to fly for a little bee. Giving them sugar-water before they leave and warming them up again would be the thing to do in the morning once the day begins warming up a bit.

  33. Hi, I rescued a honey bee from the ocean while kayaking. The bee flew away but fell back in the ocean. I have the bee in a box now. It is going to rain tomorrow until the afternoon. Should I release the bee when it stops raining or the next morning? It is getting cold, and I’m worried that the bee is having trouble flying. Not sure what to do. Any suggestions would be welcome. Thanks.

    1. Where are you located, in terms of how cold is cold?

      So long as it’s near to 50F (or 10C), I’d see if your bee feels like going tomorrow afternoon. I’d warm your bee up in its box first indoors, and try offering some sugar-water mix too. If your bee is warm and well-fed, it shouldn’t have trouble flying as long as the temperature is at least around 50F.

      If your bee shows no sign of wanting to buzz off tomorrow afternoon, you could always try keeping it another night, being sure to feed it some sugar-water.

      1. Thanks for the quick response. I am located in Rhode Island. The highs for the next four days are 45, 41, 23, 31 (F). So I guess tomorrow is the best day to release him. (Hopefully 45 degrees is okay?) I will keep giving him sugar water. Thanks.

        1. Yes, 45F will be close enough. Warming your bee up first (and feeding your bee too ahead of time) should certainly help. Don’t be entirely surprised if your bee doesn’t buzz off immediately, just bee patient. Try setting your warmed and fed bee out with the container open, and give your bee an hour or so. Check as it starts to get later and cooler, and if your bee is still in the box after that time showing no signs of buzzing, try again earlier the following day (not too early though… within an hour or so before approaching the warmest part of the day). It definitely looks like either today or tomorrow ideally, according to your forecast! I wish you and your bee the best of luck, ask if anything else comes up that I might help with :)

  34. Hello there from Northern Alberta! My son found a bee in a snow bank while he was outside playing today. So he did what any 9 year old would do…he scooped it out and brought it home. Well – within 5 minutes of being inside…. the bee started moving around. We now have it in a big rubbermaid with a plant and some sugar water. Was wondering, should we release it? My friend has one of those little bee houses that has a bunch of holes. Would it survive without it’s colony? Or do we have a new pet bee? lol. Our winters are LONG and very cold here.

    1. Hmm, that’s a good question, and it would really help to know what kind of bee it is that you have. Is it large and fuzzy? Or small and less fuzzy? Dark-colored with large solid patches, or light-colored with bands of black/orange (more like a “traditional” bee illustration)?

      If it’s a honey bee (lighter colors in bands, and less fuzzy), then it won’t live without its colony over winter, and it should be released on your next sunny day… if you still get those, brrrr! If it’s a large, fuzzy bumble bee, then it’s likely a queen that will hibernate beneath the snow during winter. It should also be released on your next sunny day, and in either case, the bee should be well-fed with sugar water, and warmed up indoors, before departing.

      If your bee doesn’t fit with either description though—perhaps it’s smaller, kind of fuzzy, maybe all one-color—then it might well be a solitary bee (the kind that use those little bee houses with a bunch of holes). Although I’ll be honest, if it’s one of those kinds of bees, its days are numbered, because those bees don’t survive winter… only the baby bees in their tunnels do.

      It is doubtful that your bee would survive through winter indoors, although I’ve known folks keep them successfully for at least a couple of weeks indoors. They do tend to require nutrients not found in sugar water in order to bee healthy long-term, but then again, honey bees often survive winter on sugar alone (which beekeepers provide them).

      If you could email me a few photos I might be able to give slightly more targeted advice, but it’ll still be along these lines, trying to get your bee outdoors again if at all possible. If it’s a bumble bee queen, I wonder if digging a patch of snow out to expose the ground below, in which she might hibernate, might be another thought. Perhaps even digging a small hole, since they often nest in abandoned mouse burrows. It would be late for her to be out in your weather, but that might give her the help she needs, if she agrees that the spot you choose is a desirable one, that is!

  35. Hello! It’s the end of October and I found a huge bumble bee on our porch…unable to fly and very lethargic and in danger of being stepped on. We put the bee in our heated greenhouse with a bit of sugar water on a spoon and some flowers (our green house also has flowers blooming) The bee is crawling around in a large pot with dirt and safe and sound from the pouring rains. It has been three days now and it is still the same. Could it be an older queen on her last days? Not sure what else we can do for her.

    1. I am so so sorry to be replying to your message so late. It doesn’t sound as though there’s much more you can do for your bee though. Perhaps she is an older bumble bee queen on her last days… sometimes they’ll last two years, but typically they do not, instead dying off as summer turns to autumn and all the new queens and males leave the nest. It is also possible she’s a new queen though, who simply ran out of energy in the bad weather. Giving her sugar-water and housing her safely until some better weather comes (your greenhouse sounds a perfect place for that) would be the thing to do in that case, keeping an eye on her (if possible!) so you can make it easy for her to leave if better weather arrives. If she’s a new queen, she’ll need to find a spot in the ground outdoors to hibernate. I did wonder if she might try hibernating in your greenhouse too, if you’ve provided her with a large pot of dirt, but it seems like she might not if it’s heated, especially if flowers are blooming, as the seasonal cues won’t seem right to her.

      If it were me, I’d try to see if she’d leave the greenhouse on your next nice day (if you get any more nice days), making sure to give her with a good drink of sugar-water first so she has plenty of energy upon leaving. If she doesn’t want to leave (or if you can’t find her!), I’d assume I’d at least have made her comfortable and kept her safe from predators. And perhaps she might instinctually burrow into the dirt in your greenhouse pot, even if it is warmer in there than normal conditions for the time of year. In which case, she might well reappear next spring!

  36. Great article, TY! I found a bee on it’s back in a hummingbird bee diversion pool I made . The pool was dry. I thought the bee was dead after a night of exposure. I put the bee slanted, head up, on a leaf. By end of day, it was moving and attempting to drink the sugar water I held up. Now it’s night so I took it inside. The bee continues to move and clean it’s antennae. The problem is it’s tongue seems to be dragging below it’s mandibles as though it can’t roll it back up or is disconnected somehow. The bee responded to the sugar water but I’m not sure it can drink properly. Have you seen this before?

    1. Sorry for my late reply, I only just saw this on waking up. Yes, I have seen tongues dragging before, but it’s not a good sign, it seems to happen with truly exhausted bees, and often just prior to the end of their life :( I hope that isn’t the case here though! Do you have a guess as to the type of bee? There are some bees at this time of year that will be near the end of their natural lifespans (male bumble bees in particular, fuzzy but as a rule smaller/thinner than female bumble bees). I would still try positioning sugar water solution right near the tip of the bees outstretched tongue and see if your bee responds with more energy. Warming your bee may help too. If he or she doesn’t respond though, it may simply be that they are nearing their natural time to die, in which case you can only make them as comfortable as possible. I don’t usually say that (typically bees revive relatively quickly—a few hours or at most an overnight + morning—with warmth and sugar-water), but the continually outstretched tongue is what worries me here.

  37. Hello, earlier this evening I found a bee stuck to a flower outside, last night was the first frost of the season, and it’s been about 48 degrees today. I had a few errands to run, so I plucked the flower with him attached and put him somewhere safe outside where I could find him later. He was very lethargic and could not fly at all. When I came back later I thought he was dead at first because he wasn’t moving at all, so I immediately brought him inside with me and within 5 minutes he started walking around my counter exploring, but not trying to fly. Before coming to this page I actually put some honey mixed with water on a little plate for him, he stood next to it but idk if he actually ate it. Then I read on here honey might be a bad idea so I mixed up some sugar water. I have him in a plastic bin at the moment.
    I know I’ll have to keep him overnight since it’s so cold, but what do I do with him if the temperature doesn’t go back above 55? Last night was the first frost of the season, it killed all my flowers as expected, and I didn’t expect to see any bees out today. I know most of your advice pertained to bees waking up in the spring, but what about this situation where it’s a bee who was making a season’s end trip and got caught in the cold? If I have to keep him all winter to keep him alive I’ll do it if that’s what it takes, but I don’t know the first thing about keeping a bee. I would obviously he rather be able to return to his hive if possible though. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. If it doesn’t warm up, I’d warm your bee up artificially whenever the day is close to peaking at its maximum temperature. So, put your bee in a ventilated box somewhere really warm indoors in the late morning tomorrow, monitoring your bee closely during that time to be able to release them as soon as they have energy and begin buzzing around a bit. Having a shallow dish with just a little sugar-water mixture inside their box will help too. Ideally your bee will “buzz up” with both warmth and sugar-water, and have the energy he or she needs for flying during the best part of the day.

  38. Thank you! I found a bumble bee on my pine tree near their favorite flowers. It was hovered up and still. I ran in read your post and started to get to work. I heated a bowl of rice up for 30 seconds (about 1/2 cup) placed a paper towel over the rice and mixed 50-50 sugar water up and placed in a tiny lid. I came outside. No bee!! Uh ohI crawled around in the ground carefully looking for it Under the trees. I found it far from where it was which didn’t make sense. It was too cold for it to make it that far, but ok. It did. So I take it in the house, took itbtontje sunny window on the warm rice, but it wouldn’t drink the sugar water. Within 2 minutes it started bouncing it’s body and flapping. I held it between my hands to keep it warm and carried it to the flower bed and luckily the sun came out brighter than ever and off it flew . I went back in my house and felt something crawling on my head and reached up to find another bee in my hair. I think I found a different bee and the one that got in my hair was the one I originally set out to help. It must have fell in my hair and started warming up went I went into the house to help the other bee. That’s why it started to crawl around after 5-10 minutes and I felt it. It flew to my window and my cat almost got it until I screamed. I’m so happy I saved two bees and didn’t even realize I was doing it. What luck! The sun is still out but won’t be for long. I’m glad they flew off, both in the sameness direction. I’ll assume they’re heading home. Sun or no sun. They weren’t outta here. I hope everyone continues helping bees. It really makes such a great difference whether it’s one or a 100. We can turn the bee decline around if we all try.

  39. found a bee in a puddle. only moving its front two legs. gave it some honey (i hadn’t searched the internet yet) which it seemed to lick up nicely. it looks really wet and its back legs and wings are unmoving. put it in the sun but it doesn’t seem to be improving much. probably bumble bee queen as it’s very large and fuzzy. any advice? it really looks like it might not make it!

    1. Even if your bee doesn’t look like it’ll make it, I’ve seen (and heard plenty of stories) of bees making what appear to be almost miraculous recoveries… so don’t give up, even if she looks dead to you! I would say give her plenty more time in the warm sun, as it’s often time that helps once they’re warm and fed :)

  40. Thank you for this. When I was watering out garden I accidentally watered a bumblebee instead. It wasnt doing too well, so I brought it inside where it was warmer and it dried itself off pretty quickly. I offered it sugar water too but it never took it. We released it this morning and it took off straight for a rose.

    1. So pleased to hear that you helped the bee you accidentally watered :) A little warmth (and shelter overnight) can go a long way!

  41. hi! im here with a question. There’s currently a bee hangin out on my screen of the screened in porch. Its been there for a while not moving. I tried the sugar water but its very hard to find a way to give the bee the water while its on the side of the screen. i dont mnow the type of be, im assuming bumble bee, queen bee. Its quite large and fuzzy. Any suggestions on what to do?

    1. I’d suggest using a glass to put over the bee and slide a piece of card gently underneath. Then try placing your bee in sunlight or somewhere warm to see if it gets going again. It’d also be easier to try the sugar water if, as you suggested, your bee isn’t on a screen! Large and fluffy does indeed sound like a bumble bee queen :)

  42. Thank you so much for the info! I took a little video of the one I fed and warmed up today; pity I can’t really share it. Thinking it might be a Queen.

    1. I hope to set up a way for folks to share photos and short videos here soon! So happy to hear your bee was happily off on her way again with a little help :)

  43. My son found a cold amd wet bumble bee in our garden today. He seemed quite frozen but he brought him in and put him in a see-through box and gave him a tin pop bottle cap full of organic cane sugar water. He was still for about 5 minutes and then he started moving. He quickly found the sugar water and has been drinking steadily. It’s projected to hit 16C tomorrow so he will release our friend tomorrow. It’s hovering just above 0C today.

    1. I hope your bumble bee buzzed off happily in the morning! Sorry for my late reply, but it sounds like you had everything set for taking care of your bee overnight, and I’m sure your bee appreciated the sugar-water boost :)

  44. Thank you so much for the information! I found a bee….I think perhaps a honey bee by your description….sitting on the clothesline stand. It is a coolish, windy fall day….cloudy now. It was just sitting on the wood, so I looked up what to do. Made some sugar water and took a single red flower from geranium plant and put a drop in a dish….she came aboard, with a wee bit of encouragement, and out came that little tongue!!!!! I sat down with her, and put her in my hand, thinking she might be cold….seemed a little awkward, getting one leg in the nectar. She dined royally and pretty steadily for a couple of minutes, in my hand, then started to move…in under a minute she was flying and buzzing around, as if to say thanks, and off she went!!!!!!
    Thank you so much for your clear and helpful information !!!! Now I will know what to do when I see them in this condition!! Thanks again!

  45. I have just rescued a honey bee from the porch where it had a few bits of web on it. She drank the sugar water well but is not quite strong enough to fly away. Your article says that the honey bees need to get back to the hive overnight. Will it be ok to keep it indoors with some sugar water and foliage as it’s a chilly autumn UK night, and then release her in the morning? Or should I let it out now? Thank you

    1. I would try her outdoors to see if she’ll get going tonight… but if it’s dark, I’d just keep her indoors (safe from predators that way) and not somewhere too cool, since honey bees are accustomed to being warm in their hive at night.

  46. Hi! I just grabbed a bumble bee on Sunday. It wasn’t flying. So I originally moved it’s lovation, as it was on concrete. However this bee was not flying in any way, shape or form. I decided to bring him in for the night. Made some sugar water for him to drink but to no avail. It’s been 5 days later. I bought him flowers to collect pollen on but no luck. I am hand feeding him. He has day and night heat lights to keep him warm. I am by no means a bee keeper. I am not sure what to do now. He is starting to fall over. I’m sure dying now. I could never get his energy up to get him to fly again. Any advice would be great

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that… I wish I could suggest something, but it might just be this bumble bee’s time… if it’s a male bumble bee, he very likely has already done his life’s work, and male bumble bees do not live through winter (whereas bumble bee queens hibernate through winter underground).

      Other than keeping your bee warmish and attempting to administer sugar water, there’s little else a person can do when the bee does not respond positively. I don’t think I’d leave the heat lights on at night, just during the day, so as to simulate night-time temperatures and a daily cycle of light.

      I’d do my utmost to try to get sugar-water into your bee though, and the one tip I’ve read from other bumble bee folks (a tip I usually don’t give out, in case people make a mistake) is to gently stroke the top of the thorax (middle of the bee, where the wings attach) after placing a drop of sugar water beneath the bee’s head… something about the stroking sometimes invokes a tongue-out response, and if your bee’s tongue does extend, place another drop of sugar-water solution directly under it.

      Ideally, if your bee was hydrated and had energy from the sugar-water, along with daytime warmth, it would start buzzing about in its enclosure. There are other things that could be wrong with your bee too (bumble bees suffer from various diseases and pathogens, which they find all the harder to fight off in today’s world with fewer floral options, often laced with poisons sadly too). But it’s wonderful to hear that you’re caring for your bee, and trying everything you can… every bee makes a difference!

  47. Just rescued a little bumble bee from outside. It was barely moving sat on a flower leaf, sort of clinging on. It’s quite a cool morning here. He was very sluggish. I offered it sugar and water but it wasn’t interested. So I brought it inside and put it in an open box with a leaf with the sun on it. Took about 10 mins for him to warm up then he was buzzing around my kitchen. I caught him in the box again and have just released him onto a flower and he’s just flown off. Seems he was a bit cold and needed some heat. Glad I could help him get home

    1. Excellent, I’m so happy to hear that your bee buzzed off on its way! Sometimes all they need is a little extra warmth to get going again :)

  48. I found a honeybee on the ground near a marina while I was out for a university trip. I picked it up and carried it over to some flowers since I didn’t really have sugar water on hand. It drank some nectar and seemed a bit livelier after that, crawling over my hand and cleaning itself.

    It started raining, however, and it’s fairly cold where I am so the bee stayed on me and hid on my palm where I used my other hand to shelter it from the wind. A friend of mine had 100% organic orange juice so we put a little in the cap and fed the bee some of that, which it drank very happily. However it still wasn’t buzzing so I kept it with me and brought it back to the uni (only 15 minutes away from where I found the bee) and it hid inside my sleeve from the rain.

    It was crawling a lot when I got back and seemed pretty happy so I opened the window and tried to get it to fly. Placing it on the windowsill I returned back to my work only for it to literally leap down onto me and crawl up towards my neck.

    I had to shut it out with the juice, in the end. It had started buzzing and using it’s wings and refused to leave me. It seemed warm, energised and unharmed. Why do you reckon it wouldn’t leave? The bee acted like a clingy dog! Bizarre. I feel bad that I couldn’t have done more for it.

    1. That is rather unusual to end up with such a clingy bee… perhaps your bee really loved the orange juice! It sounds from your story as though she wanted your body warmth too :) That latter doesn’t surprise me at all, but the orange juice does a bit, and it might explain her odd behavior too. Honey bees have been known to make honey from candied syrup if they find it, so when they encounter an unusually tasty food source (like orange juice might be to them) they may become a bit fanatical about it… which sounds like what happened to your bee!

      It sounds as though in any case, your bee was all set to go, there’s not much else you could have done! Being only 15 minutes away, she would have been just on the very edge of her range for finding her hive again. But honey bees are able to join other hives too, so long as they come in bringing nectar and pollen, so I wouldn’t worry too much, though in the future it’s good to try to return them to near where you found them, if you do take them away for a bit.

      1. Oh cool! I’m so glad :’) I didn’t know they got a little obsessed over certain foods… good to know though! I left the orange juice on the windowsill so she’ll be able to get some more if needs bee (badum tsh)

        Thanks for the snappy reply! I feel a lot better now.

  49. When I got home I found a small bumble bee just under my garage door – it was probably coming in to get warm. It is a cold and cloudy day now with no sunshine. I tried to give the bee sugar and water, but it wasn’t taking it. It was starting to get dark and much colder, so I opted to put it in a box, with some foliage and a bit of the sugar solution (should the sugar be in the box?). I have put the box in the garage, where I will leave it over night. It is due to rain & snow tomorrow and Thursday – what should I do about releasing the bee? I am assuming I don’t keep it in the box until a sunnier & warmer day, which according to the forecast won’t be until next Monday.

    1. The sugar solution should be fine in the box, so long as it’s not too much to where the bee might fall into it and get sticky in the night. But the bee probably won’t move around much anyway at night, naturally. Bumble bees are fairly resilient, and can fly in the rain as well as at lower temperatures than many other types of bees (because they can generate their own heat by vibrating their wing muscles… it looks like shivering to us). I would try opening the box up in the morning, and perhaps seeing if the bee will drink up some of the sugar solution then (it’d be great if it did, because it’ll be able to get going faster that way). If it doesn’t want the solution, I’d try tipping the bee gently out onto a flower so that it can get a drink that way. If it were me, I’d just keep an eye on the bee, but it can take them several hours to get going sometimes, so don’t be surprised if the bee seems inactive for a long time in the morning.

    1. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed reading it! And that you’ve saved some bees! I’ve added to this post over time, based on other people’s experiences that have been in touch with me about their rescue bees :)

  50. I would like to say thank you for advice on saving a wet, sluggish bee. I put him on my hand. Gave him some sugar water and within 2 minutes he was himself. Fantastic feeling. Thank you again.

  51. Thank you so much for this post, I discovered an almost completely submerged bee in a deep puddle, I thought it was a goner but when I scooped it up on a leaf it’s legs were moving but only ever so slightly. I found the warmest spot in the garden and fed it some sugar water on a petal. Very little movement for the first 30mins but all of a sudden it’s tongue came out and started to drink – ten mins later it started to buzz stationary and then within a minute it was off!! Thank you for your advice!! X

    1. I just got back from some travel, and it’s so nice to hear such news upon my return! Yours is such a heart-warming story, and I’m so happy to hear that you were able to give your bee another chance :) It’s amazing how they’ll revive in most cases with the right care, thank you so much for caring about bees and looking out for them!

  52. I scooped a bumble bee from my pool today. I was horrified as it was the 2nd time ever. I am so glad I found this post. I placed in the garden and kept returning to check. I gently stroked the bee with a flower petal and again the leg moved slightly. I brought inside to the warmest room created a ventilated box with some leaves and the sugar water. I talked to the bee and no movement. I kept checking in and nothing or a tiny twitch in a leg. I figured it might be overnight with so little progress but I went and checked again and the box was buzzing. I released just now and it took several hours and I literally had a tear watching her fly off. I just placed a temporary water dish with pebbles and will get something better tomorrow. I am so relieved my sentences probably make little sense. Anyway I just had to share because it took 3 hours of rest and success. So be patient and don’t give up. ❤️ THANK YOU FOR THIS INFO!!!

    1. I’ve been out on vacation, but this is a wonderful story to come back to! I’m so glad you helped your bee… it’s amazing how they can recover with a bit of help, when they seem so lifeless! I love hearing of folks rescuing bees successfully, thank you for taking the time to help your bumble bee out of the pool and give her a second chance :)

  53. I have brought a little bumble bee home, she was soaking wet on the ground.
    I have offered her sugar water and she is now resting next to my warm kettle (not hot).
    One of her back legs is missing and she’s not trying to use her wings.
    I am going to put her into a shoe box as it’s raining and cold outside but what greenery should I put in the box?
    Thank you for your informative site.

    1. There doesn’t even necessarily have to be anything else in the box, I just feel like a bare box might have an emotionally depressing effect on a bee (and it does seem from studies as though they experience at least primitive emotional states). Flowers can seem an obvious choice, except that once cut, they run out of nectar so fast, and will just confuse bees at that point! If it were me, I’d just pick a collection of twiggy leafy things from my garden and arrange them in the box so that there’s something to climb on if the bee so desires. In the morning, once it’s warmed up a bit, just put the box outdoors with the lid off, ideally in a sunny spot, and your bee should be on its way (they don’t wake up super-fast, so don’t be surprised if your bee spends an hour or so maybe cleaning itself and just soaking up warmth before leaving).

  54. Ive just rescued a bee from my daughters paddling pool, its very wet and its nit sunny outside, ive offered solution but it’s not interseted, it is moving its legs but not crawling, so ive brought it inside for the day as its due to rain

    1. Just warming up your bee may help it get going, if it’s not yet raining. You can warm bees up by bringing them indoors temporarily, blowing gently on them, and even holding them if you’re so inclined (some people are :)

  55. Hi there, i found a bee today in my pond. It wasn’t quite submerged but close. I took it out and there was no life whatsoever. After holding it for a while i put it on top of my gate post. I kept checking it but there was no sign of life. This evening as I watched there was the slightest movement of it’s abdomen. I brought it inside and have been watching it. I offered it a little sugar water. I have just checked it again and it is crawling around like mad and looks fantastic. My question is should I put it outside now as it is getting dark. i haven’t seen it flying and was worried it might get predated by a spider.

    1. Hmm, that’s a good question… how warm will it be outdoors tonight? I assume the bee is totally dry now? If your bee really wants to go, I would certainly let it follow its instincts, as it should be just fine outdoors on a late summer’s night, assuming it leaves with lots of energy as it sounds like it has.

      You might try putting your bee in an open box and monitoring it outdoors to see if it flies off… then if it doesn’t, you could keep your bee overnight in a sheltered area (outdoors or a cool room indoors). Your bee will naturally move less again as the temperature grows colder, but will revive again with warmth in the morning :)

  56. I found a bee upside down late late last night.
    I tried to give it sugar water but it was dark.
    This morning the bee was still there! It’s sooo slow, barely moving. I can’t tell if it’s drinking the solution or not.
    It looked wet, and probably freezing cold. I’ve given it more solution and have it in the sun now, but it’s not acting any livelier.
    Should I just let it alone? Or put it out of its misery? It’s been over 10 hours now.
    How long should it take for it to regain its energy ??

    1. I would be on the safe side and let the bee alone… they can take awhile to get going in the mornings, especially if they’ve been wet and freezing, and they can also make seemingly miraculous recoveries given time. Just leave your bee in full sunlight with sugar-water nearby and see what happens, hopefully it’ll liven up as the day goes on. You’ll have improved its chances, even if ultimately there are other things going on with your bee. You’ll be able to tell if it drinks because a (surprisingly long) tongue will protrude from the bee when it does so.

      1. I wish I had this article last night. It would’ve brought it in!
        I think it’s dead now. It’s stopped moving and is non-responsive.
        It’s up and safe, and in the sun, with the solution water, so hopefully it’ll revive and disappear from its current spot later today.
        Makes me so sad to think it’s dead. I tried!! But maybe it wasn’t enough.
        Poor baby.

        1. I’m pretty sure it’s a bumblebee. It’s about as big as a quarter and is yellow and fuzzy.
          The wings edges looked fine, not ripped or frayed.

  57. ..So… I lost a bumble bee in the sea two days ago ;( ;( ;(
    Long story short – there was nothing around to use for the bee to “hop on” and I decided to take it out on my hand, but it dropped back in (probably because of my stupid “shaky hands”) and I lost it… Couldn’t find it anymore.
    I’m going to the seaside again today, so my question is: Would/could a bumble bee or a honey bee sting when taken out of the water with bare hands? (scared/stressed/other reason…)

    Greetings from Latvia,


    1. Oh no! Well, there’s always the possibility of an accidental sting, but I’d say it’s fairly unlikely, unless the bee really feels mishandled somehow. I think they have much more on their mind when they’re rescued… just getting out of the water in time! I’ve picked them up before with my hands without a problem (from pools). Another idea would be to bring something with you (something like a tea strainer would do the trick nicely, for fishing them out and getting them dry quickly!) I’ve also used large leaves in the past, but I think that would be harder in the sea with waves (and likely no large leaves handy).

  58. I’ve followed your advice the last two nights and been so upset to both bees dying the next day. What did I do wrong? It worked for a couple of bees the first time I tried helping previously. They appeared alert enough but couldn’t fly, I thought perhaps they went in sugar water and got wings sticky? Is that possible? Got so upset I don’t want to try again.

    1. Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry to hear that :( In most cases, this advice definitely improves bees’ chances of survival! Yes, it’s possible to get bees sticky accidentally if you give them too large a drop of sugar water to feed from, but in most cases they’re easily able to clean themselves off just fine.

      There are many things that could be going on here. Can you tell me what type of bees these were in each case (even just roughly, such as honey bee, bumble bee, orchard bee…)? Do you still have them, and if so, can you tell me how the edges of their wings look (rough, tattered edges are a sign of advanced age in bees)?

    1. Their tunnels go straight down, but they have chambers off to the sides where they lay eggs, and so adult bees and larval/pupal bees can live in these air pockets underground for some time in the rain. Additionally, some ground nesting bees go to extra lengths in areas prone to flooding: “cellophane bees” coat each nesting chamber with a water resistant membrane.

  59. Hi I found a bumblebee outside my back door this afternoon on the floor looking extremely sluggish not moving its wings have given it sugar water and it seems to alternate between looking better and happier and looking really poorly have popped him on a box with some grass but is showing no intentions of leaving infact he seems more interested in sitting on my hand any ideas ?

    1. Try warming your bee up… I think that’s why your bee is interested in sitting on your hand! Sugar water + warming your bee up should do the trick. You can also blow warm air gently on your bee, or place him or her in direct sunlight to help speed recovery.

  60. Hi I found a bee upside down when watering my garden. He seems sticky. He has a hard time staying upright. I put him on some bee balm thinking he needed food. But he fell off. I brought him in for the night. He looks like he has something stuck to his face. He is furiously trying to fly. I put a small capful of sugar water inside but it seems he is drinking from the echinachea I put in the container. He is rubbing his legs constantly. One of his wings looks clipped. What else can I do?

    1. I’m not sure what to say :( Do you think your bee would hold still enough that you might drip room temperature water onto whatever appears stuck to it? Do you see anything besides a clipped wing that appears to be preventing your bee from flying? How clipped, in terms of percentage compared to the other wing?

  61. Hi, I found a bee today that seemed to have something stuck in its tongue. I tried to help GENTLY hold a tiny stick to the object and let the bee pull itself. We tried and tried, but no luck. The bee tired and it started pouring rain. I scooped it up and took it in my car where’s there’s warmth. I tried using tweezers to gently try and get it off. I can tell you. This bee knew I was trying to help. I couldn’t figure out what was on it’s tongue. I think it looked like a tiny brown bug. The bee wouldn’t keep it out long enough for me to examine. It started to try and leave before I could get the object off its tongue. Because the bee starting to fly away. I had to let it go . If I find the same bee again later. Which I may after the rain stops, because it flew to an aspen tree above my car and went under the leaves. How can I help and what could it be on it’s tongue?

    Thank you

    1. It sounds as though perhaps the tiny brown bug was a mite? Tiny mites sometimes hitch rides on bumble bees back to their nests. The mites don’t typically cause harm to the bees, instead nibbling detritus around the nest once they get there. Problems typically arise only when large numbers of mites try to climb onto a single bee, affecting the bee’s flight. It doesn’t sound nice for a bee to have a mite on his or her tongue though! I would hope the mite simply climbed off your bee at some point.

      Note that these mites (tiny ones that hitch rides on bumble bees) are totally different than the far larger mites that cause serious problems for honey bees. From your description, it sounds like a tiny little mite though, which should be harmless.

  62. I’m usually fishing out a bee every day from my horses water tub. From what I’ve researched it’s usually a retail bumblebee. I just place it on the ground at the other side of the fence so it doesn’t get stood on.

    1. That’s so nice to hear you’re helping the bees out of the water and on their way! You might try placing a shallow dish of water with pebbles in it near your horses water tub, to give the bees a safer access point for water (which bees need in summer)!

  63. Hi. I found a bee about an hour ago. I thought he was dead but then he twitched. I’ve put him in a dish with sugar water near him. He’s not going to the sugar water to drink it and even when I move him to it I don’t know for sure if he’s drinking it. The long thing he has is out constantly.
    I thought he died a few mins ago but again he twitched. So I moved him closer to the sugar water and then his leg moved a little and his wing twitched.
    What else shall I do to help him? Or is it a lost cause? I feel terrible for him and think I found him too late but I couldn’t leave him on the riad

    1. The long thing your bee has out is his or her tongue. If you can maneuver the tip of that into the dish of sugar water, without getting the bee covered in the solution, it might help. Then again, I’m afraid it might be too late too, but give your bee time, they can make a miraculous recovery sometimes. Just keep your bee warm and safe from predators, and hopefully time and sugar-water may do the trick. I wish I could suggest more!

  64. Hi we have lots of bees visit our garden as it’s heavily planted with flowers and flowering shrubs. They particularly appear to love the sea hollies and lavender. We’re also fortunate to have a leaf cutter bee.
    I have read your comments with great interest and have found it to be very informative. I have mixed some sugar water ready for if required and have it in a small lidded pot. How long would you advise keeping this solution before discarding and making up some more.
    Also if a bee appears to have gone to sleep on a flower during the evening on a very warm dry summer spell, would he revive next day when the sun comes out without any extra help?

    1. That’s a wonderful idea, keeping some sugar-water mix on hand. I know folks who bring a small vial with them on walks too, especially in early spring, just in case they stumble upon a bee in need!

      I’ve just done a bit of research, and it appears as though simple syrup (a 1:1 mix of sugar to water) will stay good for about a month, but is best stored in the refrigerator in order to extend its shelf life. I’d keep an eye on the pot from time to time, just to see if it appears to have changed at all, at which point it should be replaced. I’m not sure how happy a bee would be to have cold sugar-water either, but a very quick warm in the microwave (not much at all, just to take the cool aspect away) would probably be a quick way to solve that particular issue.

      If a bee appears to have gone to sleep on a flower in summertime, they’ll be able to “revive” on their own the next morning just fine :) Bees (especially male bees) frequently sleep out on flowers, and it’s a perfect place to wake up for a bee… a morning sip of energy being so close by!

      I’m glad you’ve found all the comments helpful :) I’ve folded quite a bit of information from the comments into the main article, because I’ve learned a lot from talking to folks too!

      1. Thank you so much for your helpful reply. The site is marvellous in helping people to protect our wonderful bees

  65. Hi I think I have a tree bee outside my back door. He wasn’t moving much so offered sugar water but he was extremely clumsy and still managed to roll in it but seemed to perk up he was still there when I got up this morning and walking and not as clumsy but still not flying how can I help him? Or am I delaying the inevitable? Thanks

      1. I’m so sorry to hear that :( I would have recommended trying to warm your bee up, ideally placing your bee in the sun, or even breathing on your bee to see if that changed anything. But perhaps it was the end of this bee’s life, naturally.

  66. Hello
    I have a big paddling pool in my garden and in recent days I have been finding some bees in our pool floating on the top and sometimes still moving and struggling, what do I do in this situation, I have been moving the bees out with a little scoop onto the ground but I’m not sure if I am doing the right thing.
    Thank you

    1. Bees are attracted to your pool in summer because they’re thirsty. Also, honey bees need water to cool their hives (they’ll fan it with their wings to make an evaporative air conditioner)!

      Scooping bees out and emptying them onto the ground is certainly better than leaving them to struggle in the pool. If it’s warm and sunny out, and they haven’t been in there long, they’ll usually recover quickly. Sometimes they may need a mix of sugar-water to get them going again, since they can expend a great deal of energy struggling to get out from the pool.

      A few ideas on what to do to make it less likely they fall in to begin with. Covering your paddling pool when it’s not in use would be great. If that’s not feasible, then perhaps keeping some broad large leaves floating in it when it’s not in use, since a drowning bee may well gain a foothold and manage to escape the water. Try attracting them nearby to something safer too… in summer, I always place a large shallow dish filled with water and pebbles for our bees here. The pebbles give them the perfect footholds to drink as much as they need in safety!

  67. Hi, I’m looking for some help. I recently seen a bumble bee fighting off a spiders web in my garden. The next day I seen the poor little fella sitting near the web in my garden and realised that he must have been hurt or couldn’t fly because of the web. So I rescued him into my house and popped him onto a flower that I have. He’s now been in my house for two days and he’s still alive. But it doesn’t look like he can fly I’ve also offered him sugar and water but it doesn’t seem like he can drink either because he doesn’t seem to have a tongue. I can’t see it. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you

    1. Their tongues aren’t visible until they extend them… then they’re very noticeable, and surprisingly long! The one tip I might suggest is that I’ve heard a few experienced bee folks say that sometimes, delicately stroking the bumble bee’s thorax (the fuzzy bit on top behind the head and in between where the wings attach) may encourage them to drink. That’s all I can suggest, other than keeping a few drops of sugar-water nearby in case your bee decides to have some after all. Is there any residual webbing left on the wings? Have you tried warming your bee up in the sun to see if that reenergizes your bee a bit?

      1. Ah ok, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that the tongue is missing or damaged. I shall try doing this massage. I thought by taking him inside that he could warm up a little and I had read that they clean themselves of the web. But this doesn’t seem to be the case. Unfortunately I stay in scotland so its not often sunny here. Would there be another way I could warm him up? Thank you for your speedy reply.

        1. Usually they are able to clean themselves off. That said, I’ve helped pull off the largest bits of web before on a paper-wasp rescued from a web, and let her do the cleaning after that. A few days later, and without food, I doubt your bee would have the energy to do so though. Can you see pieces left of web? I would think that if your bee had been bitten by a spider, you’d already know about it. It’d be nice to get some sugar-water into your bee. For warmth if there’s no sun, I’d suggest a nice warm room, and possibly even breathing over your bee… some people even let them crawl on their arm to absorb body warmth, though I would simply offer up such a spot nearby rather than move your bee, and then relax if your bee decides to wander across you, since they’ll stay awhile on arms or hands as they warm up :)

  68. Hi, this morning on a walk I noticed a bee in the floor surrounded by ants. It’s a very hot day and it had clearly collapsed from exhaustion or similar. When I see the bee still moving I picked it up on a leaf and took it home. I tried to feed it sugar water but it’s tongue is already out but not taking anything in. Her legs are moving very slowly and the two front ones look likes she’s covering her eyes. From reading this blog it appears she’s a queen bumble. Im very keen to get her to eat and back out but she seems to get weaker and won’t tske in the sugar water. How can I do this when her tongue seems to be broken? I’ve seen them feed before so I know what to look for. Any advice would be appreciated. This is the 4th bee this summer so far I’ve picked up

    1. Well, there’s one thing I have heard from some very good bee friends, but I’ve never advised it here before in case people get it wrong. And I really don’t know if it’ll help your poor, weakened bee. You might just try delicately stroking her thorax (middle section between her head and the rest of her body) to see if that prompts her to drink. You mentioned her tongue being “broken”, in so far as it is already sticking out? It’s possible the ants did some damage, as they do often dismember victims before they’re dead :( I wouldn’t necessarily give her up, but I’d keep her somewhere warm (not cold, not hot) indoors safe from predators right now, with the drop of sugar water right below her tongue, and just give her some time to see if she’ll pull through now she’s safe.

      1. Im in the same sitation! Lotsa ants at the poor bumblebee! I rescued it, and its still alive, but it rolled over onto its back on the sugar water 0-0 i feel like the ants damaged him but it did stick its tongue out and seemed to eat something outaa its butt 0-0 i feel awful that i cant help more! Should i rinse him? Should i put him out of his misery? :/ hes still moving but i feel like he mightnt come round :/

        1. Your bee may well be fine, so don’t give up hope yet! Drop some room temperature water from a dropper or your finger over your bee to rinse it off a bit. Move your bee somewhere safe and warm (an open box perhaps in a sunny spot). Place a very small drop of sugar water right beneath your bee’s head. And give your bee some time to recover! Once your bee drinks up some sugar water, he or she will have the energy needed to clean off any remaining sugar water on their little body. You’d be amazed at what they can recover from, and even if they look bad to us, they can spring back to life with a little energy and warmth!

  69. Hi, I have bees which have taken up residence in a wall cavity, just outside my door. Bumbles. They’re perfectly fine. The guard bee does his job as expected. Likes to chase me. I’ve been decorating my kitchen this evening and had the light on. I heard a buzzing sound as I switched off the light and then a plop. It fell into the paint. It was quite shallow so I scooped him out and he was covered in paint. Panicking I quickly washed him under the tap. Like warm water. But I mean washed him! I then set him on a Tea towel and he snuggled up under it while I used a q-tip to dab off excess water. I then popped him on a plate with cotton wool. Fed him some sugar water which he had a small amount of. I tidied up and went back to him and he tried to buzz and his mane had sort of started to dry. For his ordeal he seemed to have a fair amount of energy. As I know where his home is, I took him out to it and he crawled into the cavity. I checked him just before I came up to bed and he’s still on the walk before the actual entrance to where they go into the area they’ve made home. So he’s in the wall, but not further along where the insulation is, where they’re actually living (sat in his doorway if you like) will he be ok? I’m really worried but I panicked and I don’t want die. Should I have kept him in. It’s still 17 degrees outside so it’s by no means cold. I just want him to know that although I put him through an ordeal it wasn’t only to save him. I’m quite attached to them and go out and leave sooons of sugar water on the grass by their home. Even though they fly after me a lot could I have done anything better? His poor little head and body was covered in paint but I managed to get it all off.

    1. Oh my goodness, what a chain of events! Poor little bee! I’d have done exactly what you did… from washing the bee quickly to putting your bee on the doorstep of their home. I would certainly think your bee will enter soon, and no, it’s not cold enough for it to be a problem staying out either. Perhaps your bee, energetic earlier, needed a bit of time to recover from the whole thing?

      1. Thank you! I’m going to go check on him now. I feel better that you’d have done the same. I’m just thinking should I have kept him in. I’ll update you if I see him! Thanks again, I feel more relieved now. Just hope he doesn’t hate me! I’m not sure they’ve been that keen on me, but I figured the relationship would progress over time as I’m not killing them!

        1. I’ve checked, he’s not in the doorway of his house anymore so I’m assuming he got in as no little bodies anywhere. I know I sound daft, but I googled everywhere and apparently they can remember faces. So I’m hoping he knows I tried my best considering he’s a completely different species to me. I’m a bit protective of nature in general, more so bees at the moment. Hubby thinks I’m daft!

          1. They’re amazing :) Not only are they able to learn to recognize our faces, but studies show that bumble bees even pass knowledge on between generations, building up learning over time, and I think that’s just staggering in its way! I’m so happy to hear you’re looking out for the bees there too :) They need all the help they can get! Not only do we need them for our world, but they certainly deserve to enjoy it regardless of us… they’re so intelligent (not to mention completely adorable)!!

  70. I found a bumblebee that was on the ground, desperately trying to get something off it’s back and one of it’s wings. At a closer look, it had something sticky, what resembles partially dried syrup, on it with small rocks stuck in it. I used a pair of fine nosed tweezers to pull the rocks off, and some of the stickiness. It’s wings aren’t stuck together, but is there a way to get the residue off it’s back?

    1. I would try very carefully dripping water—ever so slightly warm to lukewarm—off your finger, or with a dropper, on top of the bee, in an attempt to dissolve whatever residue remains. I don’t think I’d use anything stronger on the bee (nor do anything more, other than—just perhaps—using a new (never used with paints) small paintbrush if I had one, to help remove any residue along with the water… or maybe a Q-tip if the water isn’t doing enough and it looks important to remove what you see). And don’t worry, it won’t hurt the bee to get a little wet, so long as you can put it in the sun or somewhere warm afterwards to dry off :)

      1. I was thinking about that, but I wanted to see what you might be able to suggest first. Thank you! And I will let you know if it helps

        1. I would add too… avoid her wings, or at least be incredibly cautious with them… the water will be fine on her wings too, but I’m not so sure I’d contemplate touching them with a paintbrush or q-tip.

  71. I have a bumble bee thats been hnaging out on my steps for the past 24 hours. There are two other bumble bees that have made a home under my patio. Its been rather cool lately, shpuld i take it in to warm it up? The bee seems to be sluggish

    1. Have you tried offering a small drop of sugar-water mix? You could try warming your bee up—by bringing it indoors, or even by breathing on it—but it should be unnecessary unless the sun doesn’t come out at all today.

  72. Hello, I’ve got a little bumblebee in the lounge, I’ve put a little water down in case the little fellow was just hot, the weather is just so warm at the moment. The problem is he keeps flying into the window and all his energy seems to be going into this task, I want to help but bees have always seemed awfully fragile. Is there any way to move my bumblebee without hurting them?

    1. I use a dedicated “bug catcher” myself, but the easy way to move your bee is to take preferably a see-through container such as a glass or clear plastic cup, position it over your bee when he’s on the window, and then slide ideally a piece of card (but even a few pieces of paper together will do the trick) beneath the container, preferably when he buzzes to the other end or sides of your container, so that little feet don’t run the risk of getting caught as you slide whatever it is under the container. Then you can transport your bee easily and safely outdoors :)

  73. Hi, I found a bee in my pool last night (in the UK) after I had just added chemicals into it (chlorine). Im not sure how long it had been there, but I scooped it out and put it on a tissue to help dry it and gave it some sugar water as it was barely moving. I also cut some fresh lavender for it to go on and I spent over an hour with it last night, then this morning it was still there. It is moving better than it was and have given it more sugar water and cut more fresh lavender, but I don’t really know what else to do. I have sat in the sun with it for a while to warm up and it has been cleaning itself (it did fall backward onto the spoon of sugar water). I think it is a bumble bee, although it is not very big. It has a black face and black central body part with what I would describe as a golden lion mane, then the bottom section is a fluffy and starts with a black stripe, then golden, then black/brown, then white) – it has been crawling on my hand and over the tissue and lavender and is just cleaning itself for ages. It has also lost one of its middle legs and seem rather clumsy. it has buzzed several time, but its wings look covered in the dried sugar water. Is there much more I can do to help it, or it just a case of waiting? I have put it in an open lidded box so that I can keep an eye on it/keep it with me, which has some sugar water a tissue and lavender in it.

    1. It sounds as though you have a bumble bee worker there. Usually bees clean themselves off before the sugar-water dries. Can your bee separate her wings when she buzzes? I think I need to revise my article above to make a point about avoiding this situation to begin with, but here’s what I’d do, though I’d proceed with caution (and I’ve never done it before). I’d use a dropper or even just drip a little cool, clear water from your finger over your bees wings, to help dissolve the sugar-water mix coating them. After all, bees get rained on, though it can be a dangerous time for them if they get caught out in heavy rain. A little at a time is key here, dropped just over the wings, just a couple drops at first to see if that begins to dissolve the sugar just a bit, which should make it easier for the bee to clean herself off. Put her somewhere warm after… if it’s already late there and the sun has gone down, and she’s still with you, I’d be inclined to cover your box with a ventilated cover to keep her safe from predators at night, leaving the box out if it’s decent weather or bringing it in to a not-overly-warm room overnight, and then place her in the sun in the morning. Keep monitoring her wings, and if it still looks as though there’s a sugary residue, and if she’s not cleaning it off herself, then drip just a couple more small drops on her to see where you get. The aim would be to rinse her off very gently, ensuring she’s not getting soaked, but still helping her along :)

  74. Hi there I put a small amount of water and sugar mix into a shallow spoon and the bee accidently fell into it upside down I’m now worried he’s going to have problems getting it off his wings to fly is there anything else I can do? .. thank you for this page it’s very helpful x

    1. She should be able to get the sugar-water mix off herself once she’s feeling more energized from her drink… they clean themselves well once they have a bit of energy :)

  75. Is it safe to let a bumble bee crawl onto my hand? I’m not allergic to bees, but I would prefer not to get stung.

    1. It’s almost certainly safe! Bumbles aren’t like honey bees—they don’t lose their lives when they sting—but they’ll only sting if they feel threatened, and you really do (I hear) have to be quite aggressive before they feel the need. Typically they’ll stick a middle leg up first (I’ve got that while photographing them)… if you persist, they’ll stick both middle legs up, and that’s simply “bumble” for “please back off, I want my space” ;) They love the warmth of crawling on us, and I’ve never had problems with bees crawling on my skin before, though I encourage people only to do what they’re comfortable with!

  76. Hi! I found a small worker bee crawling very slowly around my apartments public pool. She is hardly moving, no matter what I offer her, and it is already about 70 degrees outside, (closer to 60 in my house, so she’s outside with me). It is 9 at night though, so I don’t have any sun for her. She has sort of sprawled herself out on the cement, and I’m worried about her. Her antenna are drooping and she has yet to even try to clean herself. I know she isn’t dead though, she’s moved around, not matter how sluggishly it may be. Is there anything else I could do?

    1. I wish I could suggest something more… this seems to be a common issue at this time of year with pools, and poor worn out bees. Honey bees are drawn to water in summer because they need the water to cool their hives through evaporation (they fan it with their wings). Her chances of survival depend on how long she was in there for. Don’t give up on her though, sometimes they make such a seemingly miraculous recovery, just with time! It sounds warm enough where you are for her to recover. Have you tried offering her some room-temperature sugar-water mix? Just a single small drop placed below her head should be sufficient, and she’ll recover some much-needed energy if you can get her to drink it up.

      1. I followed your advice and I just watched her fly away! It took almost 24 hours, but she was a happy healthy bee as she departed. I’ve never been so proud or emotional in my life haha thank you!

  77. I’ve spent 2 days trying to revive a honey bee found in my pool. It doesn’t seem to drink the sugar water and I think it may have even fallen into it at one stage. I’ve put water with a stone,
    blueberries and flowers into a box and moved it into the sun during the day. It fluctuated between barely moving and then trying to climb up the flowers, cleaning itself etc. I put it ip higher in a bush hoping it could fly off but it fell off. I then left it in the sun (it’s winter here, so not very strong), in a container and thought it had flown away but found it a few feet away sitting on the ground. It was at one stage trying to flap its wings but couldn’t fly so I thought it might be the sugar water it rolled in, so I dripped water on it. I have it in a box for the second night. I’m wondering if I’m prolonging its suffering and should I put him out of his /her misery? It seems like such a fighter, I didn’t want to give up…..

    1. I’m afraid it doesn’t sound too promising, though I’m utterly unable to end their little lives myself, just in case they recover, even if they look close to the end. Especially because insects that look almost dead to us do sometimes recover (that happened to me just yesterday rescuing a butterfly… I had no idea butterflies could “play dead” and had given it up until I realized it was changing positions whenever I wasn’t around… it had been caught in an old, dusty spiderweb, and ended up surviving)!

      Take a look at your honey bee’s wingtips… are they frayed and tattered, or still ending in a smooth edge? That will give you an idea of the honey bee’s age. If your bee doesn’t respond to warmth and sugar-water, there’s unfortunately nothing else I can suggest. There could be other things going on (if not age), including internal issues that would be difficult to diagnose (they suffer from internal parasites and bee diseases too, and even acute pesticide poisoning is another culprit, depending, if she’s happened upon something sprayed in the neighborhood).

      My inclination would be to make your bee comfortable, try and get some sugar-water into her by placing the smallest of drops right below her head. And keeping her warm and safe from predators. If that doesn’t help her, then at least she won’t have been torn to bits by a predator, or taken apart while still alive by ants, which is a fate that often befalls weakened insects.

      1. I’m not sure if you received my email but I think my bee did indeed survive after 2 nights – although I didn’t personally see it fly away so I can’t be 100% certain…. tonight I just found another one in the pool filter and thought it was dead for sure but it stirred after I blew on it and gave it some sugar water. As the sun has already set, I’ve decided to keep it indoors for the night. I hope I’m doing the right thing. It’s 17 degrees Celcius (our winters are mild). It’s climbing up the sides of the shoebox inside so I’m wondering if I should put it outside with the lid off – or wait until the morning? Also, my apartment is close to the pool in the complex so when I find them in the pool, should I take them back out there or is it ok to let go in my backyard. I feel it’s safer there in case not strong enough to fly over the pool. I love your website – so helpful!

        1. I did receive your email, and was happy to hear that your first bee in all likelihood survived :)

          Yes, that is a mild nighttime temperature, and it shouldn’t be any issue leaving bees outdoors once they show signs of life and you’ve given them some sugar-water. I wouldn’t leave sugar-water mix in an open box if you leave your bee outdoors, in case it attracts ants, which sometimes attack weakened bees. It’s not going to hurt to keep your bee in at night, so long as you keep her in a ventilated box at a similar temperature to the outdoors. I think if they’re really buzzing, let them out, but if they’re just walking and exploring their box, they’ll be fine indoors for one (or even two, as you found) overnights.

          So long as your apartment is close enough to the pool, your bees should be fine reorienting themselves if you let them out at a slightly different location. It’s important to try to let them out near where you found them, but they’ll quickly gain an aerial view. Honey bees especially will be able to manage, as they may travel up to 10 miles from their hives to forage.

          I should also note that for honey bees and bumble bees (both social bees that live together in colonies), it is possible to be admitted to a honey bee hive or a bumble bee nest that is not their own, so long as the bee comes bringing pollen and nectar :)

          Did I mention that you might try putting a shallow dish with water and pebbles in it out for the bees? They may still be attracted to the pool as well, but it’d be much safer for them to drink from, and they do like to have water available.

  78. Hi the bee we have found is a worker bee and it was laying on its back, we tried to let it latch onto a stick and flip it over onto its legs. It got onto its legs then flopped back over. We tried to see if it needed to be dried off so we set it into the sun. We left it for about 20-30 minutes. No change so we google what to do when a bee wont get off of its back. We got the recipe of the water and sugar. We put the bee in a bowl ( with a see through lid, with many holes ) and put a little spoonful of the mixture into the corner of the bowl (that way the bee doesn’t drown in it, and can go drink/eat it when wanted). So we were wondering if there was anything else we could do, or leave it alone, or just give it time.

    1. That doesn’t sound so good, to be honest, but I would try to place the bee on its legs with its head/ mouthparts as close as possible to the small spoonful of sugar-water mix. Ideally she’d stick out her little tongue to drink from it. But if warming her up in the sun—and attempting to get energy into her by way of sugar-water—doesn’t work, then there’s unfortunately little else you can do. She may simply be at the end of her natural life, sadly.

      1. Ok thank you, I mean she is still wiggling her legs around and I tried to move her closer to the mixture and she ended up getting her wings soaked so I set her in the sun again. The rain clouds are rolling in, so i moved her under a bright light. I really hope that it isn’t the end of her life:(

        1. You can tell her age by her wing tips to some extent… if they look tattered and frayed at the edges, that’s an indication she’s an older forager, and in summer honey bee workers only live a few weeks. I’m sorry she fell in the mixture, it can be difficult though if they’re weak for them to figure out where to go to drink, which is why I suggested trying to get her closer to it. Placing a single drop right beneath her head might still be a good idea. Warmth and sugar-water will help any bee that’s struggling, unless there’s something else going on with them (such as nearing the end of their lifespan, acute exposure to pesticides, internal parasites or other illness). Thank you for trying to help your bee, it’s important to do what we can for each of them individually, as well as for all of them more generally.

    1. It’s ok! The reason to avoid brown sugar, molasses, and the like is that it can give bees diarrhea. Maple sap though, like some other tree saps, is something that some bees will nibble on when other nectar resources are scarce. I would say stick with white sugar for bee rescues whenever possible, but don’t worry if you fed a bee a small amount of maple syrup once.

  79. Hello! I rescued a bee from a pool and brought it home, it seems rejuvenated now, but it didn’t drink much sugar water. I’m also curious because he or she send to be cleaning themselves, running their arms over their face and antennas a lot. Is there anything I can help with? Also it’s so cute!!! It’s just resting on my hand

    1. That’s wonderful! It’s up to them how much they drink, and an individual bee doesn’t need too much, being quite small already. I’m sure your bee will really enjoy the warmth of your hand, that’s another way of helping too :) I can think of nothing else you could help with, and she’ll very likely be buzzing off on her way soon. It’s not at all surprising that she (she in all likelihood) would want to clean herself up quite a bit too, they’re quite fastidious little creatures. And so so cute, I totally agree, they’re adorable!!

    2. Well, he or she is much better, but now he or she’s flying around. Is there any way I can lure then back so I can take him it her outside? Thank you!!! Your site is great, by the way.

      1. Ah, haha yes that is a bit of an issue ;) Hmm… honestly, I don’t know of anything that would “lure” her particularly, not really light even, though that was my first inclination, since she’ll want to go outdoors, and they often fly to windows. I have a bug catcher here that I use to bus all the errant insects back outdoors where they want to be. A glass and a piece of card works equally well. I’d probably use that approach… wait until she alights on something, however briefly, and kind of pounce with the glass and slide the card beneath it in order to release your now recovered and buzzy little friend safely outdoors!!

        1. Well unfortunately I lost track of him or her and now I can’t find them! Oh dear. Just wait until morning and then open the curtains? Thank you so much! Who didn’t think bees are cute? Even the emoji is cute.

          1. Ah yes I was a little worried that might happen too… they’re quite easy to lose track of :) It won’t hurt for her to spend the night indoors. I’d listen very carefully for buzzing in the morning… that’s often how I find them when I’m out taking their little photos. I do think she’ll end up at the windows in the morning too, since it’ll look like the outdoors to her, so yes, just wait until morning and open the curtains, and listen for that adorable little buzzing sound in order to escort her back out ;)

            1. Sad news! I woke up this morning and didn’t hear any cute little buzzing! It stopped soon after it took off, and I couldn’t find it. :-( I’m not sure what happened as I had to leave the hotel room, but I hope lil Benjal is okay. (I named it hehe.) Thank you so much for your help!! You’re a great resource.

  80. Hi, I have just found a huge bumble bee larvae that is still alive as it’s moving ??? I placed it in a open dish with flowers and leaves outside and when I went to check on it, it was sucking on the flowers (eating the pollen) it’s now the evening and I have decided to place the larvae in my conservatory over night but now I’m thinking what else can I do for this little fella??? I know it’s survival chance is very slim but you never know lol worth a try … any advice

    1. That’s very unusual to find bee larvae. Bee larvae look rather like white-ish “grubs”, but they’re usually safe in some nesting tunnel, colony, or hive, depending on the bee. Yes, they do eat pollen mixed with nectar, so providing a source of that is the only thing I can think to do as well… along with protecting it from any predators (so your conservatory is a good idea). A larvae still needs to go through pupation before becoming an adult bee. I’m not sure there is much chance of success without adult bees there (especially bumble bees, which are social), but solitary bees manage the whole thing on their own with simply a provision of pollen and nectar, so possibly there’s a chance of survival. I assume a bumble bee colony was raided, and that’s why you found a bumble bee larvae. Badgers particularly love to raid bumble bee nests, often with calamitous results for the colony :(

    1. I wouldn’t worry too much about the dust, I’d let the bee clean itself, because bees are so small and delicate, so better at cleaning themselves than we would be. That’s good that your bee took some sugar-water mix, that’ll give your bee an energy boost :) Let me know if you notice anything problematic about the dust, but so long as the bee’s ability to fly is not impacted, your bee should be just fine.

      1. So the bee basically dropped of my window ledge onto the neighbours ledge below. When I find it, it’s being weaved into a spider’s web. So I run back to mine get a cup of water and threw it as it was out of reach. The spider backs off so I then run back for the broom to nudge it off. The bee is now drenched so I have placed it in a tray with tissue.

        1. I think it’s late where you are, so since there’s no chance of your bee warming up and drying off in the sun, it’s likely a good idea to let her recover from her recent soaking with some more sugar-water mix. I do hope she was not bitten by the spider, since those bites are venomous. I’m glad you retrieved her from the web! I’d keep an eye on your bee this evening to ensure she’s recovering well. Depending on outdoor temperatures, I might bring her in for the night in a ventilated box, but if it’s normal summer temperatures then she’ll be fine recovering outdoors. The only danger is that a cold, wet bee will be easier prey, so she should be left in a safe, sheltered spot outdoors if you don’t bring her in. In the morning, make sure she’s warmed up with a bit more sugar-water too… placing her in the sun when it comes up should help too!

          1. I’ve put it in a shoe box and pierced it several times and left sugar water in a bottle lid. Will that do until the morning?

            1. Just make sure that the sugar water isn’t too deep (kind of depends on the bottle lid depth)… just so there are no accidents in the night. I assume your bee is rather sluggish at the moment? Just put the box somewhere sheltered, if indoors then not in any overly warm spot, or otherwise outdoors (just to make sure that your bee doesn’t get confused about night/day, basically outdoor-type temperature, but sheltered from predators like spiders while she’s still recovering). Bees are not particularly early risers, but once the sun is up, open up the box and place it in full sun so that she can warm up and bee on her way!

  81. Hi,

    I got a bee drop on my balcony floor for at least 2 days during cold winter about (5-12 C°) was rained at least couple of times.
    Do you think it could revive?

    Surprisingly on the third day it revived in the morning, flying next to my window so I can see. I did search the balcony floor could not find the bee.
    Do you think this is possible? Please reply with your knowledge. Thank you.

    Kind regards,

    1. Yes, definitely a bee might appear to revive, after having looked almost dead for several days. When bees are cold, they cannot generate their own warmth (unless they’re bumble bees… but even those can’t do much if they’re really cold). So to us they look unmoving and therefore dead, but they’re simply very cold, resulting in a state of torpor where they use up very little energy. Once the weather warms up, they may well bee on their way again!

      It’s still a good idea to offer any future cold/sluggish bees you find a 50/50 sugar-water mix, so that they can be off on their way sooner (depending on the weather), and also to make sure they have sufficient energy reserves to wait out the weather and bee on their way once it gets warmer!

  82. There is a large bee that appears to be stuck ion my screen door. It’s antenna or head somehow appears to be stuck in the tiny holes of the screen. I tried lifting it’s body with a plastic spoon to give it a different angle for better leverage to dislodge itself but it didn’t work, and I am afraid of hurting it. I don’t know what to do! It’s breaking my heart to watch it struggle. Any suggestions?

    1. Oh no! Can you ever so carefully clip some of the wire screen around it, right up to the point where it would free the bee? I mean, I know you’ll be damaging your screen door, but they can be repaired afterwards.

  83. Hi there, early this morning I found a rather large bee which I’m assuming is a bumble bee at my work, I’ve gave it some sugar water and placed it in the sun. It still hasn’t moved, although it does appear to be cleaning its self alot more frequently than it was earlier, problem being I work on a building site and I’m a little worried it may have came into contact with some rather nasty dust from the site. Is there anything else I can do to help?

    1. Sorry for my late reply, I only just woke up as I’m on the West Coast, U.S. So my reply may well come long after your concerns have passed… at least I hope so! My suggestions would have been to do exactly as you did though, and there’s little else one can do besides giving them a quick boost of sugar-water and placing them in the sun to recover. Any dust she might have come into contact with will be better removed by the bee than by a human, because it’s just so hard (and possibly traumatic for them) to try to clean a bee as carefully as a bee is able to clean herself. Frequent cleaning is a good sign though, and I hope she buzzed off soon after you sent this message!

  84. I found a big bumble bee today in a bucket of water at 5pm . Put it on some kitchen roll and it did dry off . Have it some sugary water which it did take and I put it on a leaf on my plant pot . It’s legs are splayed out , just 2 off them are , which looks strange ! I ve just checked on it again and it still seems sluggish but is still moving this is now 11pm I’ve popped a plant pot kinda at the side off it to keep the draught off it but I haven’t brought it in , it’s pretty mild outside but it’s too hot inside . I hope it survives

    1. I would imagine your bee will be just fine outdoors. I think the only danger that comes of leaving them outdoors is that occasionally ants may attack bees that are weakened but still alive. But your bee should be just fine on a leaf with draft protection from the plant pot you placed near her. You may well still see her tomorrow morning, that is, unless the sun has been up for awhile before you check on her. The warmth of the sun should revive her without any further intervention, but if she still looks sluggish in the morning even after it warms up, you might offer another few sips of sugar-water to speed her recovery.

      1. Oh my wee bee is still alive and is basking in the sun . I’ve given it some more sugary water and it buzzed a few times . I think I’ve saved it , I’m so happy I could cry xx

  85. I found a sweet little bee trying to get into her hive and fell down and was being attacked by ants. She is still breathing but she doesn’t seem to want the sugar water I made her. Can the ant bites kill her? I have her indoors in a little container to keep her safe.she isn’t moving much, do you think she is done for?

    1. The ant bites certainly aren’t going to be good for her, but I think her chances probably depend on where they bit her, especially with respect to her wings (sometimes ants bite wings to disable their prey). It’s definitely good that you managed to separate her from the ants! Can you put the container with her inside it somewhere warm (either indoors if it’s nice and warm, or ideally a sunny, ant-free location outdoors) and observe her to see if the warmth perks her up and she begins to recover?

      1. Yes I am. I have had her inside for a little bit now and she did start cleaning herself but then stopped and has just been laying there. She is still breathing though. Sleeping and taking a break possibly?

        1. Great, I would continue keeping her somewhere warm with a very small shallow dish or spoon of sugar water mix near her. Either put her box somewhere so she can bee on her way once she feels better, or simply keep an eye on her until she starts moving around more again and looks as though she’s feeling better. I think her injuries depend on how many ants successfully bit her, but it makes total sense that she’ll need some time just to rest and recover from her experience. Keeping her warm with an energy source like sugar-water nearby should aid in her recovery. Keep me updated if anything changes with her!

    2. I found what I think is a honey bee worker at the bottom of a bin lying on its back wriggling its legs!! I got it out and gave it some sugar water but it doesn’t seem to even be able to move, it has only been wriggling its 2 front legs and its antennas. It also has kept its tounge out since I gave it the sugar water? I have tried with the sugar water a few more times but I can’t tell if its actually drinking it. Is it too late for this little bee? I feel so bad about how I found it and maybe there is nothing I can do to help, I have it indoors with me and have done for 1 day now.

      1. Hmm, the fact that you’ve had your bee for a day now and she’s still not showing improvement is worrying. And to be honest with you, I’ve often seen honey bees pass away with their tongues sticking out :’( Have you tried putting your bee out in the sun, or warming her up in some other way? Is she on her legs normally, and just resting most of the time, or is she struggling to stand up properly?

  86. I saved a baby bumble tonight. I hope! I’m a carer and at a clients house I found this bee on the soap dish. I gave it some sugar water and it perked up nicely. But, I couldn’t leave it in the house or take it with me… so I put him outside in a plant pot on a paper towel with the spoon of sugar water. It’s a dry night atm but expected rain in the small hours. I really hope he survives.please tell me I did the right thing!

    1. Yes, you definitely did the right thing under the circumstances. In fact, better to leave your bee there than take it with you, because they really should be released back to the same area in which they were found. Leaving the bee somewhere reasonably safe like a plant pot, with extra sugar-water, should ensure your bee has the energy to bee on its way the following morning (and your bee may well have buzzed off home even in the late hours, depending on the bee)!

  87. I saved a honey bee worker today thanks to this information. Thank you so much it was such a nice thing to see a once sluggish bee later buzzing about and flying back out into the outdoors.
    She was on my window ledge and it was raining heavily so I gave her some sugar water and it worked wonders. She then waited till the rain had stopped to bee on her way!

    1. That’s great to hear! It’s amazing how quickly bees buzz back to life with a little sugar-water pick-me-up :)

  88. I tried feeding a tired bee brown sugar water last nite and it was still there this morning. So I found your website and fed him white sugar mix 50:50 this morning and he was off in a few minutes. Feeling really happy, I think it was a burrowing bee. You are truly saving bees! Thank you so much!

    1. That’s wonderful! It’s so rewarding to save a bee, and I love hearing from people all over the world who find bees in trouble and revive them with these simple methods :)

  89. I’ve saved a bee who Is very ‘wobbly’ isn’t buzzing or flying. I’ve tried the sugar water and he doesn’t seem to be drinking any. Just slowly but frantically trying to climb the box. Worried about putting him outside but he won’t stop moving. He seems far to wobbly and flippy to release. Not sure how else to help him

    1. Was it sunny when you found the bee, or cold and overcast? Is it a large and very fluffy bee like a bumble bee?

      Typically when I see bumble bees “wobbling” it’s because they’re cold (though it can also point to internal issues such as parasites). So I might try warming your bee up, either by breathing on it or by putting it near (but not too near) some other source of warmth (such as an old-style lightbulb). If warming the bee up doesn’t seem to help at all (and since it’s getting later where you are), you might try keeping your bee overnight in a ventilated box, and see how the bee is behaving in the morning. Hopefully the day will be sunny, and you can place your bee in direct sun and observe its behavior (trying again with the sugar-water mix at that time).

  90. Me and my 5yo found a still bee last evening as we went out to water our flowers on the patio. Found this site and brought the bee in due to it only being 50degrees and going lower. Bee is moving around like crazy and is even trying to fly in the Big home that I made for her. But now today it’s gloomy and rainy. Temps are still 50 and going to be as low as 43 again with no increase of temp till tomorrow. It should be in the low 60s and sunny. Can I keep the bee again for the night? I’ve seen this bee before and I would hate to send it on it’s way for something worse to happen. But I also only have some water in a shallow dish inside. I could probably get some sugar water in with a syringe but this bee is moving and could escape into my home lol. Let me know what you think we could do!

    1. Where are you located (is it the start of your day there)? And where is the bee’s box in your house, indoors where it’s warm or in some intermediate spot like a garage? Is she a big, fuzzy bee or a smaller, less fuzzy bee?

      Yes, you can keep your bee another night, so long as you can get some food into her box (the sugar water mix). If she’s in a warm spot in your home right now, try moving her box to a sheltered outdoor area such as a porch or garage and leave her there for a half hour or so. Once she’s slowed down by the cooler temperature, you should find it much easier to place sugar water in her box.

      You’re right that releasing her on a warmer, sunny day would be ideal. If she’s flying and butting against the box in an effort to get out though (even after having put her box in a cooler area for a half hour or more), then it’s possible that you should let her go regardless of the weather, especially if it’s just the start of your day there, only because we don’t want her to do any damage to her wings (nor to feel “trapped”, to the extent that bees appear to have emotional states—some studies show something akin to pessimism in bees depending on their circumstances).

      If she’s a big, fuzzy bee (a bumble bee), then she can generate her own heat too (by vibrating her wing muscles), and because of this, she can fly in lower temperatures… even in the rain. Still, she’ll be happier on a warm, sunny day, so long as you can give her some food and keep her at temperatures very similar to the outdoors (rather than warmer, as our homes tend to be).

      1. It’s 11:35 and it’s fuzzy. Not flying around to the point where it would be injuring it self I don’t think but I’m going to try and google bees and see if I can find out what kind of bee I have. I’m in Sheboygan wi

        1. Bee has a black abdomen if im wording that correctly. Fuzzy but not all yellow and black striping. Thinking it’s a bumble or carpenter

        2. It sounds like a bumble bee (carpenter bees tend to be large and stocky like a bumble bee, but not as fuzzy). So my inclination is to put her box in a sheltered, cooler area matching the temperature outdoors and keep an eye on her at various times today. If she continues to show signs of vigorous activity (with some flying and buzzing about), especially as the day goes on, that I’d consider letting her out.

          If she instead slows down with her box sitting in a cool place, then I’d slip some sugar-water mix into her dish, and wait until tomorrow’s warmer, sunnier weather comes before opening up her box to release her. I’d keep her overnight in her box in a spot where it’ll be a similar temperature to the outdoors (as well as dark at night), just so as not to throw her off in terms of her perception of day and night!

        3. I also added a few photos to my post here, showing some bumble bees versus honey bees, since those two types of bees are the most common ones to find in trouble. People tend to find honey bees drowning in pools of water (easily helped by getting them out into the sun to warm up, and offering sugar-water as a boost). Bumble bees, on the other hand, are often found when the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse, and they get stuck out, unable to go on with their day or get back to their nest.

          Thank you for prompting me to add these photos to this page! I’ll expand the bee identification section with more photos and information when I have time, but these photos should help determine between two common types of bees at least. It’s wonderful that you’re helping your bee too, she’ll certainly be better off if released during good weather, but I like to leave it up to the bee to some extent, since they know best as to whether or not they can handle flying in certain temperatures with some rain.

  91. I love in Michigan and I think I found a Rusty Patch Bumblebee. It’s been flying around my home for the last day or so. Well I think my husband hit it when he opened the shed because it was laying by the door rolling and trying to walk. Hubby wanted to “put it out of its misery”, but I picked it up and made sugar water like I do when I find a bee. Did my research and it looks like a queen Rusty Patch. We just got some warm weather so I think it’s a queen trying to find a nest. Anyway, she drank up the sugar quickly. She moved quite a bit but didn’t seem to want to fly. So I moved her into a bug cage with some grass. After a few hours she buzzed her wings but wasn’t flying. I have her in my window sill in the box currently. I included the flat piece that you put on jars with more sugar water. I hope she’s fine in the morning. Rusty patches are endangered.

    1. Oh my goodness, I do hope she’s ok! One queen bumble bee can produce hundreds of bumble bees, so we need every queen! Rusty-patched bumble bees are quite distinctive with their “rusty” patches. I’m glad she has some food for the night too, though as long as it’s cool where her box is, she’ll likely not need food again until morning. If you do keep her inside for the night, put her somewhere dark that’s a similar temperature to the outdoors, so that she isn’t confused. I’ve seen bumble bee queens recover from careening into windows, so we can hope for the best!

      For others reading this comment who are interested in identifying the endangered rusty-patched bumble bee, take a look at the Xerces Society’s rusty-patched bumble bee information, or watch this video A Ghost in the Making: Searching for the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee.

      1. Might have an issue. She slept last night and was moving around this morning, but seemed content to just walk around. I put the container outside and dropped kids off at school. When I got back she seemed lazy. I attempted to give her more sugar water, but she didn’t want it. I kept the container open. After a few hours she is still sitting there but moving her body. Had errands to do, so I left and came back. Well due to the sugar water, the container had ants. So I took her out and placed her on the grass. She booked it to hide. But still not flying. Should I keep her longer? Is something wrong? What can I do?

        1. Ah yes ants can be a problem sometimes :( Is it sunny out? Is she sitting in direct sun? That really should do the trick, the warm sun, and she should fly off naturally once she’s nice and warm. So no, it’s not sounding normal to me, unfortunately :`( She needs to be able to fly for sure to survive, since as a queen she has first to forage as well as establish a nest before there will be worker bees to do that work for her (once there are workers, she just lives in the nest).

          1. It’s very sunny and warm right now. Perfect weather. Should I just bring her back in side in the cage to avoid ants?

            1. No I think you should leave her out in direct sun, honestly (without sugar water). Just to see if time out there in the sun helps. Maybe I’d be tempted to try offer sugar water again, just under her tongue, just in case. Is there a flower there that you could place her on in direct sun to see if that might help her (something bee-friendly)?

              1. She just refused sugar water again. She is making me nervous. I checked her for mites. Zero. My 3 year keeps telling me to take her to a dr Haha. I have some red potted flowers my mother in law gave me but I don’t know if bee friendly. I have a crab apple tree that is in full bloom and all the bees are loving. But it’s a tree and I don’t want her to fall.

                1. Yes it’s hard to know what to do here. The reason I suggest keeping her outdoors though is that it’ll warm her much faster (being in direct sun), and also I hoped that all the familiar outdoors smells and sights might help revive her. The crab apple definitely sounds like the best spot for her, are there any low clusters of blooms perhaps? Is she moving about much at all?

                2. She is going through spurts of energy and laziness. With energy it looks like she is cleaning herself and wiggling her butt. She climbs and walks fairly fast. Just refuses to fly. No low clusters. Maybe I can put some on the ground with her.

                3. Putting a cluster on the ground in full sun sounds like a good thought. Unfortunately, there’s not much more to do for her, other than hope for the best, because repairing wings or other internal issues she may have is not possible.

  92. How do i help a big bumble bee that keeps flipping itself on to its back ? Ive tryed sugar water but doesnt seen to be any good

    1. Unfortunately, that’s not normal behavior, and it likely means there is something going on with your bee internally that’s causing issues (internal parasites have weird effects on their behavior, as does acute pesticide exposure). It could also be a problem with her wings. I’m sorry to say there’s little to do in such a case, other than make your bee as comfortable as possible :(

  93. I followed the sugar water recipe and it worked it was beautiful to watch the bee fly away ! I saw the bee on the table outside last night and when I saw that it was still there this morning I knew it wasn’t dying because it stung something or someone so I googled it and found this website it was a great lesson for my eight year old grandson as well, we both watched the bee drink and then fly off a minute later, thank you for your website.

    1. That’s wonderful to hear! I’m so glad your bee made it (and it’s a lot of fun watching them lap up the sugar solution, I remember the first time I ever saw a bee’s tongue, and it’s nothing like what you’d imagine it might be)! It’s so good to connect young people with bees too, and I think seeing a bee recover as a result of our help is something so important :)

  94. Today I found a large bumble bee outside of my house and she/he was soaking wet and acting drunk. You could tell she was tired after we had such strong storms. So I made up a small amount of sugar water and spoon fed her for a few minutes and you could see her tiny thread-like tongue lapping up the mix from the spoon. Hopefully after a little while she’ll regain her composure, dry off and fly off. I hate to see bees die for any reason and I even hand catch the honeybees that get into my house and turn them loose once caught.

    Bee kind to bees. Without bees, WE die.

    1. You’re so right, our world depends on bees! That’s wonderful to hear you’re on the lookout for any bees that might need a helping hand :)

  95. This is great information! Thank you for posting. Me and my 5 year old found a small bumble bee clinging onto a leaf in her paddling pool :( I scooped it out and placed it in the sun. We gave it some maple syrup (hope that was ok to do) and its little tongue was coming in and out and melted my heart!! (also very educational for my little girl!) The sun then went in and it started to rain. the bee was still soaked so we got out a butterfly enclosure we had and bought the bee inside overnight. Today she is buzzing and her wings are fully out! She then has a little sleep again. Im not sure wether to wait another day, the weather is warming up from tomorrow I think?! Or let her go today but its raining here at the mo.

    1. I don’t know if my reply will be in time, but here’s a thought to test whether to let her out today, even in the rain. Because if your bee wants to go, I think it’s important to let her go, since bees are adapted to inclement weather so long as it doesn’t catch them when they’re totally out of energy… and they do have places to bee in their short lifespans :)

      So try putting the butterfly enclosure out for 15 minutes or so, and if she’s still very buzzy, open it up and let her out. And so long as it’s not tipping down with rain, and the temperature is over 55F or 12C, especially if there’s some sun, it should be fine to let her out, especially since she’s had some sugary energy to help her on her way.

      Maple syrup will do in a pinch, but it’s also another reason to let her go sooner, so that she can get some real nectar inside her!

      That’s wonderful that your little girl was able to bee involved in this bee rescue too :)

      1. Thank you for your reply Elise :) … We did indeed let her go yesterday at about 3pm, the sun came out and warmed up! I stood outside and she started buzzing around in the enclosure, I opened the lid and she crawled all the way up to the top then flew off REALLY strong!! It was lovely to see seeing as she started off soaked and rolling around not able to stand! … After reading your advice we made up some sugar water on a spoon too. Thank you for this page! Great work! (My sister is called Elyse, you don’t hear it often!)

  96. I found a bee floating in the toilet at work(!) I thought it was already dead as it wasn’t moving, but I took pity on it and decided to at least give it a more dignified funeral than flushing it down the pan…

    I’m really glad I did. As soon as I scooped it out with a pair of gloves and some stiff paper, it started weakly crawling around! I wouldn’t have been able to mix up any sugar water, unfortunately, but I put it outside in a patch of sun, in a corner away from any dangerous feet, and when I checked on it twenty minutes later it had totally vanished.

    I wasn’t sure if bees could actually fly again after be(e)ing so heavily soaked in water, and I came across this blog while trying to find the answer. I’m super relieved that I apparently did the right thing. ☺️

    1. Wonderful, another bee happily on its way in the world, and it would never have made it without your help :)

      Yes, once they warm up and dry off, they’re often ready-to-go again, even without the extra sugar-water boost!

  97. I found a bee that was barely moving I think about 29 hours ago, I gave it sugar water, kept it in a box over night and then put it outside in its little plastic box of flowers and leaves and grass to warm up in the morning, it began to move a bit but not much, I went to college and during the day my mum text me saying they’d put it in a tulip because there were ants in its box and the sky was going grey. When i got back I looked at it and it was barely moving and it was raining so I redid the box and brought it back inside, I made it some even more sugary water and attempted to warm it up, now it’s staying a second night, it’s barely moving, what do it do

    1. Was it warmer and sunnier earlier in the day when you left it out? If it was warm and sunny, and the bee was in the sun, then it should definitely have been able to fly off easily. If this is the case, then it’s likely that something else may be wrong with your bee (which unfortunately would be very hard to diagnose, especially internal issues like parasites).

      If it was cooler and overcast/rainy, then it’s not surprising at all to find the bee where you left it, and for it still to be moving very slowly if at all. Simply continue with the sugar water and housing it overnight until a warmer, sunnier day.

      Is this a very large, fluffy bee, like a queen bumble bee?

      1. It was quite sunny yes but we’d had some rain earlier in the day, I also think it’s too small to be a queen. When I woke up this morning I rolled it onto its stomach and one leg stretched out but there’s no other movement, I think it may be dead ;-;

        1. I am sorry to hear that, it sounds like perhaps a forager-sized bee. It may simply be her time (worn out with pollinating work), or there may be something else internal going on, but if she’s not responding as a healthy bee would, then there’s nothing else I can recommend :’-( She has at least been comfortable and not set upon by ants and such in your care (ants may begin dismembering insects before they’re dead… I know you mentioned ants, but if there were any sugar-water remnants at all, ants would have been attracted to those instead as an easier meal).

          1. That’s so sad : ( Thank you for all your help though, I greatly appreciate it, I put the bee in a partially opened tulip outside so he’s protected what ever happens ;-;

  98. I almost stepped on a bee on my carpet basement floor! I scooped it on a piece of paper, and it baaarely moved. I set the paper in a window box (with no flowers in it) under our covered porch. It’s about 55 today and rainy. I went out to check on it probably 20 minutes later, and it hadn’t moved at all :( So, I brought it inside and followed everything on this forum. It immediately started drinking the mixture for at least 10 seconds! It was super exciting seeing it’s tongue going crazy haha. I even made an overnight shoebox for it, because I really didn’t think it was going to recover quickly. I set the box in a window sill even though it’s overcast, and within 10 minutes it was much more active and started flying!!!! It was trying to get out the window, so I opened it and let it go! I hope it’s not too cold out, but seeing it finally moving and trying to get outside I had to let it do it’s thing. I’m so excited! Haha how rewarding

    1. That’s great to hear :) Yes, if they’re ready to go buzzing off on their way, then by all means it’s good to let them do so. It’s just amazing how fast they can recover with a bit of energy!

  99. I am petrified of bees and wasps and tbh most bugs (and I’m a ruddy bodybuilder go figure) but on my way to taking my 9 year old son to school we saw a huge bee in our padling pool so I toto the opportunity to educate my son aswell as save a life. We scooped her out and made some sugar water as above and left her on our path to dry out. By the time I got back from the school walk (all the whilst telling my son how important bees are) I got back and sat with her for a few minutes so no birds ate her and I sware to god she said thankyou. She stumbled over to my foot and got on, at this point I’m thinking f#&k she’s gonna sting me lol, after being on my foot for a few seconds off she flew to a flowering tree. Not going to lie it felt good to help out a bee and I’m a little less frightened now

    1. Good for you! That’s such a nice story, and it’s so good to be educating upcoming generations on the critical importance of bees too :)

      And yes, it can seem strange when they first crawl on you, but so long as they don’t feel threatened, they’re as peaceable as can bee! Some bees like to warm themselves on us. And other bees even like our sweat ;)

  100. my cat came across a very sluggish queen bee today, I thought sge was on her last legs! Did the mixture of white sugar and water. Amazing her long tongue was lapping it up and after a couple of minutes she was able to fly off to the nearest hedge. Thanks for this website as Id never have thought of doing this. So rewarding to save her …..

    1. Excellent, I’m so happy to hear that! It’s amazing how bees spring back to life with a little jump-start in the way of sugar-water :)

  101. I saved one today! Found it on our bedroom windowsill – popped it outside and it didn’t fly away. Mixed some caster sugar with water (we didn’t have organic) and popped some on the ground in front of it! It took a long drink and flew off – so rewarding to have done this :-)

    1. Wonderful! It’s really neat to see them stick out their little tongues and lap up a sugar-water pick-me-up before buzzing off happily :)

  102. Large, mainly black, bumble bee in my bath. Thanks for your tips so that I can release it in tomorrow’s sunshine.

    1. Wonderful! She sounds like a bumble bee queen, being large and also given the time of year. A bumble bee queen saved means several hundred future bees saved if her colony is successful this year :)

  103. Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve followed your exact instructions and expect to set my little bumblebee free tomorrow around noon, we’re expecting 50 + and plenty of sunshine. It was amazing to see it come back to life!!!

  104. I am so happy to see your website and can’t believe the amount of people that are actually saving bees. Amazing!!!
    I constantly am fishing bees out of my pool setting them in the sun and watching them fly away. I even had one come to my glass door yesterday 3 times (I believe trying to get my attention) I went running downstairs to find two bees in the pool and ended up having them fly away as well. Today I found one at sunset and it was already getting a bit windy and cold I tried setting it indoors in the sun but the little one wasn’t recovering quickly enough before the sun went away. So I google what to do with bees at night and eventually found your site. Thank you for all the great suggestions. It is now safe and sound in a box with a little blanket. It kept gravitating to my blanket so I put it in there with it. I don’t have sugar in my home but I have Manuka honey, it is supposed to be pure so I’m hoping this is fine. The Bee gravitated straight to it and seemed to get energy right away! Thanks to your suggestion it is now sleeping in a box with the blanket and I’ll give you an update tomorrow. Thank you so much for this incredible forum for Bee Rescuing!!!!!

    1. I’m so happy to hear you’ve been rescuing so many bees :) I’m glad I turned comments on for this post about a year ago, because you’re right, it’s wonderful to see all of these stories from people all over the world saving bees! I’ve learned from their experiences too, expanding the info here as a result.

      I think when people make a connection with an individual bee, it’s a wonderful experience, and each bee saved is one (sometimes many more) in the world! Many warm buzzes to you and your bee :)

  105. Found a cold bumble bee today on my allotment put it on a daffodil and put it under my bench seat so it will dry itself and will fly off soon we’ll that’s another bee saved I do find a lot of them throughout the year and always save them.

    1. Wonderful! Just as a note to others who may read this comment… daffodils tend not to be good pollinator flowers because they’ve been bred so long for the showiness of their flowers, rather than for their nectar-bearing qualities.

      Not that a bee won’t dry off perfectly well on a daffodil, but if you want to give your bee access to a natural nectar boost too, better to place it on a dandelion or other pollinator-friendly flower.

      Dandelions are nice because they’re easy to find, and their nectar is readily accessible to a wide variety of pollinators (compared to some flowers which are only suitable for certain pollinators).

  106. Currently attempting to House a bumble bee, I’m really concerned this bee is dead. But I am going to house it overnight and see what happens. This article was very useful and informative. Thank you

    1. Thank you for caring so much about your bumble bee. If she’s dead, then you’ll see her in the exact same spot in which you placed her the following morning. But let’s hope not, because bees are often found in a kind of torpor resulting from unseasonably cold weather and/or a lack of food. A combination of warmth, shelter and sugar-water may resuscitate them in such cases. I’m glad you found my article helpful, as I’ve lately expanded it significantly based on my own experiences and those of the many kind, bee-loving folks who have been in touch with me over the years.

  107. I found a wasp in my home, it may have been injured. Laying on its side but moving a leg and antenae. Put it in a box w/ some sugar water. Not much change. I have open Easter lily, should I add a blossom? It is big. I placed one scented geranium leaf and short 2-3′” sprig from a forsythia with woody buds. Some blooming crocus outside. It is cold here in northern NY state. When the sun comes in this time of year we do get wasps indoors and lady bugs. I think this bee was injured while under a chocolate egg…I would like to try to help it and being a horticulturist, I could build a nice environment for it, for now though, it is near a puddle of sugar water. Thank you for any information. All the best, Abeille.

    1. Hmm, I’m not sure what to say for your wasp. I wish there were ways to help pollinators and other insects beyond the basics of giving them food/water and shelter. If it really is injured, then probably the best scenario is simply to make it comfortable, with the hope that sugar-water (in a puddle or very small dish) and shelter give it time to heal on its own.

      Flowers are mostly decorative (since they’re not good food sources for long once removed from the plant)… I recommend flowers only so that bees feel they have something akin to a natural environment if they overnight with you, rather than keeping them inside a bare box where they might feel more trapped.

      Have you tried your wasp with fruit? It may respond well to that as a possible food source, depending on the type of wasp (assuming it is a wasp and not a bee… you mention both terms in your message, but bees are generally much fluffier than their mostly fluff-less wasp relatives).

  108. Hi there,
    I found a Queen bee in my Balcony day before yesterday, as it was very cold I ended up after 1 hour or so bringing it inside. After warming up a little, I could see slow movements. But it was chilly outside and raining, she wasn’t moving sufficiently after popping her outside, she stopped moving and I brought her back indoors. I cut a flower and read on your page to give sugar water. Suddenly she was eating from the flower but it was so cold and windy I thought it best to wait until this morning. I was dissapointed to find her almost lifeless, but I know from bringing in other tired bees that blowing in them gently helps and this worked. I put her outside and she just couldn’t muster the strength to take off and again stopped moving until I blew gently on her. Can you advise if there’s any more I can do- it’s such a shame after two days, to give up…

      1. I’m not sure what else to suggest, other than to warm her up more artificially by moving her into a much warmer room for a bit preceding releasing her. Is there any sunlight at all expected tomorrow? They warm up quite fast in sunlight, but I’m sure that’s already occurred to you. This time of year, the weather is hard on queen bumble bees, but I’ve seen them remain motionless for days around this time of year, only to revive once the weather is favorable (though they do need a bit of sugar-water/nectar to tide them over while they’re waiting… I’ve seem them hiding in crocus flowers that close around them for that reason, which provide both shelter and food until the weather changes).

        So my advice is probably just to wait the weather out even if she spends a few more days with you, keeping her supplied her with sugar-water and a sheltered place until she’s ready to bee on her way.

  109. Hi, I’ve found a bee in my garden that I think has been there for 2/3 days. At first he wasn’t moving at all. Brought him in and given him sugar water which seemed to perk him up but he’s still very sluggish. Wobbles about it doesn’t seem to be pushing myself up properly to walk. I’ve noticed some small mites on him (look like little spiders). He’s in a box with some flowers which perked him up but he doesn’t seem to have enough strength to do anything. Is there anything more I can do?

    1. If she’s a big furry bee then most likely (given the time of year) she’s a bumble bee queen. The mites on her are not going to affect her, they’re not like the mites on honey bees (a different species). They are there to hitch a ride on her back to her nest, where they will feed on leftover bits of pollen and other detritus.

      I know it’s getting late where you are now, but has she responded to warmth at all (just being indoors)? Since it’s evening where you are, it’s not going to be a good idea to try warming her up too much, but if you haven’t yet, and if she’s still alright but sluggish by morning, it’s another thing to try. Ideally the sun would warm her up, but if there’s no sun where you are, you might try her in a warmer room in the morning (some people are even so bold as to let bumble bees climb onto their hands/arms, because our body heat warms them up quite well)!

      Sugar-water, warmth, and shelter until a better, sunnier, warmer day are really the only things you can do. There are other things that can go wrong for bumble bees (internal parasites, for example), about which there’s really nothing you can do. Hopefully your bee will perk up by morning, and it’s very kind of you to have helped her.

  110. Fantastic. My mum used to rescue bees just like this & I have too. I especially remember one bee that looked like it had drowned… I got it out wirh a large leaf & sat it in the sun. Sure enough as the sun shone on her she warmed up & finally buzzed happily away made me feel very warm too Thank you xx

    1. I meant to reply sooner, but life got in the way and it wasn’t a bee emergency! I just wanted to say that it’s wonderful to hear that other people are helping bees in this way too, it warms my heart so much :) We need every bee we have, and the more people looking out for them, the better!!

  111. Hi, can you please help? My husband and I brought a bee in from the snow believing she was dead. We put her in the garage yesterday on a piece of wood and after a while she started to move round. We put a pot plant in there with her and she has been on there ever since walking around the plant which does have flowers on. I remembered sugar water and gave her some but it was golden caster sugar and after reading your website I’m now very worried. It’s still too cold to let her back outside. What should I do?

    1. I’m on the West Coast U.S. here, so just received your message. I’m not too concerned, having looked up golden caster sugar (I didn’t know what it was beforehand)! It’s definitely made without the molasses, and so it should be alright for your bee as far as I know.

      If it’s still too cold (and evening I assume), I’d put your bee in a ventilated box, maybe with the pot plant as something of interest in there, and also leave a little lid or small spoon of sugar-water available for her. Will the weather be better tomorrow? It sounds like you’re having unseasonable weather, as we are here, which is hard on bumble bee queens emerging at this time of year (and some other kinds of bees too, but most of the bees people find in early spring are large furry bumble bee queens).

      Place her box somewhere that’s not too warm and not too terribly cold overnight. You can keep her for several days in her box with sugar water while you’re waiting for better weather, which for a bee would be a day when the temperature will get to at least 10-12C (50-55F). She may become eager to go out, but so long as she’s kept somewhere cool, she’ll be just fine in her box until it’s a better day to try her luck outdoors.

    2. Just as an addendum to my previous reply, I wanted to note that you may well need to warm your bee up prior to releasing her on a day with better weather. I suggested keeping her box somewhere cool because you don’t want her to be too out-of-sync with the temperatures she’d expect outdoors at this time of year, and if she’s too warm, she’ll buzz about the box thinking it’s time to go, and might damage her wings.

      But before she leaves you (when it looks to you like a better day for her to go out), do make sure to warm her up indoors beforehand, as well as making sure she’s had a little sugar-water, so that she’ll have her best chances outdoors. I should also note that bees in general are not early risers, so you may decide to let her out in the later morning on a nicer day. Hopefully there’s a bit of sun on the day you release her, and she can warm up in the sun first before she goes.

  112. Hello, I found a Bee on the cold snowy ground yesterday. At first I thought it had died but brought it home, put some sugar water beside it and waited. To my astonishment it came back to life and was buzzing about the box happily. But..when I went to put it outside I’m afraid some of the water must’ve coated it’s body because it went all curled up and didn’t move. I bought it back indoors to revive it but it just seems to be very sluggish again and I don’t know what to do? Do I leave it in the ventilated box with a little lid of sugar water and wait it out?

    1. I apologize for my late reply, I’m on the West Coast in the U.S. I’m thinking my message will now be too late, but my inclination would be to keep your bee inside the ventilated box with a little sugar water and wait until the temperatures are warmer outdoors. It sounds as if it’s just too cold for her outdoors right now, and keeping her from freezing is important.

      It’s surprising that it was such an immediate change from buzzing about to curling and not moving again… usually they’ll have enough warmth stored up (at least briefly) to buzz on their way, even in colder temperatures. You’d be able to tell if she was wet by looking at her fluff, which clumps together when that happens. It might just be that it’s too cold out, and her timing emerging from hibernation has landed her in a bit of trouble. If you can house her and feed her until a day between 10-12C (or 50-55F) she should bee on her way happily.

      There is always the chance that something else is going on with your bee that we can’t diagnose (for instance, they sometimes suffer from internal parasites that worsen as they warm up). It’s also not ideal (for the sake of her wings) to keep your bee enclosed when she’s buzzing away and thinks she’s ready to go (until she finds she can’t when she feels how cold it is out). So ideally, find a place to keep her box that’s not too warm but not too cold.

      Update: Chrissy wrote to tell me the happy news of how this story ended:

      I’m very pleased to tell you that after I brought my queen in and added a tiny sprig of Lavender to the box, she came to life. She was all over it for around 20 minutes, so much so that I (after checking it wasn’t snowing/raining any more) put the box outside and opened the lid. She buzzed about over the Lavender a bit longer then off she happily went. I was so truly happy for her and myself that I sensed she needed help and was able to assist.

  113. Is sugar from coconut blossom nectar safe to give to bees? I was thinking it would be the most natural kind of sugar for a bee. I have a large furry bee in my bathroom and it’s snowing outside, I don’t know if he/she will survive in this weather outside. Should I leave the window open a crack or maybe put him/her in a shoe box? Any advice welcome please.

    1. I’m honestly not familiar with coconut blossom nectar sugar. Is it brown? I ask because brown sugar isn’t so good for bees… there are certain (nutritional to us) constituents in brown sugar that can cause gastrointestinal problems in bees. That’s why I recommend a mix of 50/50 granulated white sugar to room temperature water when mixing up food for them.

      At this time of year, a large furry bee is going to be a bumble bee queen. She’ll have just emerged from hibernation recently, and she’ll be looking for an abandoned mouse burrow or similar spot in the ground in which to start her new bumble bee colony.

      My inclination if it’s snowing outdoors is to keep her in a ventilated shoebox or some other container until it’s predicted to be at least 10-12C, and then release her the morning you expect such warmer temperatures (by release, I mean just putting her box outdoors with the lid off, and letting her take her time in deciding when to go).

      Don’t keep her box anywhere too warm or too terribly cold, and if it’s going to be more than an overnight stay for her (depending on your upcoming weather), add some greenery insider her box to give it a more natural and less stark feel (not flowers though, since they won’t keep their nectar, and may confuse the poor bee).

      Do leave a small spoon or some other very small and shallow lid with a sugar-water mix in her box. And keep an eye on her from time to time to see how’s she’s doing. Bumble bees can produce their own heat (by decoupling their wings from their flight muscles), and this is the time of year when bumble bee queens everywhere are taking their chances with the weather. But she would freeze aboveground in the weather you describe, so it’s a good idea to keep her warm and fed until the weather changes for the better.

    I’ve just found a Bumble Bee huddled under my bell, freezing cold and hardly moving. He was unprotected from the wind and the cold and will surely die if he stays there over the weekend. So I’ve put him in a tissue and put him just inside my front door. I was going to keep him there until the freezing weather passes. Do you think I’ve done the right thing, is there something better I can do for him? I just don’t want him to die in this freezing weather we’re going to have. (Birmingham UK)

    1. Have you offered your bumble bee some sugar water? A mix of 50/50 granulated white sugar in room temperature water will do a world of good for a distressed bee.

      My advice would be to place your bee in a ventilated shoebox or some other such container, with very little inside in which the bee could get caught up accidentally (so no fabric or cotton wool that might catch on her legs or feet). Also place a very small and shallow lid of some kind (or simply a small spoon) with sugar water in her box if she needs it.

      And if the temperatures are predicted to be freezing for several days, then add a little outdoor greenery to the box, so that it’s not just a bee kept in a stark and otherwise empty box (adding flowers won’t add nectar though, so probably best not to confuse the bee with flowers that don’t have nectar to drink).

      Definitely let her out as soon as the weather is not freezing, so at the beginning of any day where you’d expect temperatures of at least 10-12C. Try to keep her in a sheltered, “in-between” area temperature-wise, so not too warm during the day, nor too cold at night.

  115. Thank you for this! I found a soaked and lethargic queen bumble bee clinging to some flowers on my walk home and immediately looked up what to do to help her. I brought her home and gave her some sugar water and shelter from the rain. It was late and I was worried about her surviving the night but she made it, and now today it is sunny so I moved her into the sun with some more sugar water. Within a few minutes she recovered enough strength to fly away! :D

    1. Fabulous, I’m so happy to hear that! It really does work to revive them and help them on their way, so long as they’re not too weakened by other circumstances. Thank you so much for taking care of your bee! Helping a queen bumble bee is equivalent to helping many bees too, since she’ll be starting her new colony soon :)

  116. Hello there! it’s been in the low to mid forties (thats in F), but we had some warmer days that seems to have tricked the bees. Yesterday it was about 45F and me and my daughter found a bee ont he ground. I’m ashamed to say I was too scared to pick it up and so we simply managed to scoot it away from where it was so it wouldnt be stepped on. I brought gloves with me today and we came across it in the same place. So I picked it up and brought it inside. I have it in a little plastic container (no top) in the sun light and i think I might have seen its antennae move a little earlier (i’m not 100% sure..) it’s been inside and in the sun for about 1.5 hours and i havent seen any other movement. Do you think it’s a lost cause or should i keep waiting?

    1. Yes, this is a tricky time of year to be a bee! Have you tried mixing up a little sugar water (50/50 mix of white granulated sugar to room temperature water) and placing a drop or two of that near the bee’s head to see if she will stick out her tongue? She may simply need energy as well as warmth to get going again. If she was in the same place as yesterday, she is probably in need of food and liquid.

      1. I did! It’s tongue is out but I’m not sure when it stuck its tongue out (or if it was out all along) but it hasn’t gone back in. I made sure to use white sugar 50/50 and to put a small drop near the tip of its tongue. I’m almost positive it’s a little queen from what all I’ve read on this site and googling, so I’m hopeful she pulls through. We keep it at about 74F in the house and shes in the sun so I can only hope. I’ve also made a little ventilated shoebox to keep her in tonight in the hope she just needs time and warmth.

        1. I hope she drinks up some of the sugar/water mix and is able to recuperate as she warms up. Make sure she doesn’t get too hot in a plastic container in the sun. Direct sun overhead will be good for her though, for sure! Thank you for taking care of her today, I hope she pulls through with care :)

          1. I SAW HER LITTLE BUTT TWITCH! We’re all very excited to have seen that. I wasn’t sure what else to put her in, as we don’t have much space on our window sills and a very curious 2 year old xD but she seems to be getting her sun and hopefully she’ll be strong enough to drink and grow strong. It’s supposed to be 60F tomorrow so it’ll be a perfect day to let her free if shes strong enough. thank you for your suggestions!

      2. Hello Elise. So sorry to reply to this message but I can’t figure out how to post a new question!! I have just read that you’re not supposed to put honey out for bees but I did that a couple of days ago because I found a couple of dead bees outside my house and thought that their little friends might need some food. Anyway, I’ve had a load finishing off the saucer of honey today (next time I’ll put sugar water!!) and one of the little beasties was on his back in the honey. I got him out and later another bee seemed to be cleaning him off but he has been there all afternoon not moving much. What can I do? I foolishly thought it might be useful to wash the poor little thing but now I’ve probably caused him to get cold. It’s has been about 15°C on my patio today but now it’s getting chilly. I have put him in a cardboard biscuit box but I can’t find out any more info on how to help him….. can you give me some advice? Shall I put him in my garage which is heated (very low heat)? Thanks in advance. Rebecca

        1. If the bee in question is not moving much, still a bit wet, and it’s getting chilly, I’d definitely keep her in a ventilated box overnight somewhere not too warm, just like your garage. Hopefully she’s just a bit wet rather than still sticky (usually bees will clean other bees off if they’re covered in honey).

          In the morning, offer her a small amount of sugar water mix (a few drops near her head), and put her out in what hopefully will be warm sun, near where you found her.

          Sugar water is helpful when a bee is in trouble, but if there are flowers about, it’s best only to put out a saucer of water for them (with some pebbles in it so if they fall in, they can climb out easily). Although sugar/water is a quick source of food, it’s not as nutritious as flower nectar :)

          1. Thank you for your reply! He was on his side looking quite dead and I offered him some sugar water and he got up and was crawling around for a little while but then got a little tired again. I have put him in the garage where it’s not so cold with a little capful of sugar water. He’ll be diabetic in the morning….!! Thanks for your advice, I’ll put a little saucer with pebbles outside in the future. We’re only just getting into Spring here in France (I’m in the Savoie region, in the Alps) so not many about yet. There are about 30 hives just 30m from my house so we get loads of bees in the garden! Gorgeous little beasties!

  117. Hi, I have had a Queen Bee in my flat now for two weeks. I feed her on sugar and water when I’m home on Isle of Wight at weekends. She lives in the cushions by the window and comes out when I turn the heating on, but only showed interest in getting out once when the sun was shining by butting the window. It’s freezing outside with snow and ice. My question is how much longer will she stay before I start charging her for food and lodging? Rod, Seaview, Isle of Wight.

    1. That’s quite an amusing question, and certainly the longest I’ve heard of someone hosting a bumble bee queen guest inside their house! You should open up an Air Bee-n-Bee :) I’m very happy to hear she’s buzzing around well, and I do hope your unfavorable weather conditions let up soon, so that you may both resume life as normal (which for her will be setting up a new bumble bee colony for the season)!

    1. From Twitter I see yours is a bumble bee queen, so she can take the cold better than other bees. That’s because bumble bees can generate their own heat (by vibrating their flight muscles). She’ll have emerged from hibernation recently and be looking to make a nest. So she’s expecting cold weather!

      I’m sure she wants to go out, but if it’s very late in the day where you are, you might want to keep her overnight in an area that’s not too warm but not too cold either (in-between areas like garages or greenhouses can work well at this time of year). Make sure to give her a little sugar water from time to time so she doesn’t run out of energy.

      She’ll be able to fly once it’s around 50-55F (10-12C), and she’ll spend quite a lot of her time on the ground anyway at this time of year, searching for the perfect abandoned mouse burrow or other hole in the ground in which to start her new bumble bee colony for the year :)

  118. Today, around 3:30, I rescued 3 bees from my pool. It was raining a little, so I put them on a table outside under some cover, and offered them some flowers with heads dipped in sugar water. Since it’s about 60 degrees outside, and about 4pm, should I try to let them go, or should I keep them overnight in a ventilated shoebox? I’m a little worried, since it’s supposed to rain about an hour from now, and it seems the rain has only let up for a little. The fact that two of them are hardly moving is also a little concerning. What should I do?

    1. I do apologize for my late reply, I try to write back immediately in these circumstances, because I know what it’s like to wonder what to do for the best! Pool rescues can be challenging, because depending on how long the bees have been in, it affects their ability to recover.

      My advice would have been to keep an eye on them, and if they flew off, that would be great, but if 2 or 3 were still there in an hour, I’d move them to a ventilated shoebox and keep them overnight somewhere in-between in temperatures (like a garage).

      I’d then try opening the box the next morning outdoors, towards the warmest part of the day, and offer a small spoonful of 50/50 room temperature sugar water to give them energy for leaving. If you put a spoonful just under their head, they often extend a tongue to drink (and when they’re so cold and tired, there’s little worry about them reacting defensively).

      If it’s cold and rainy the next day, I’d wait to release them until it’s at least 50-55F (10-12C) and not raining. If you kept them for a day or two, I’d suggest the same ventilated shoebox in a not-too-warm and not-too-cold area, offering the sugar-water mixture several times a day.

      Note that bees can be clumsy when cold and wet, so it’s best not to leave the sugar-water mixture in with them unattended. Putting the sugar-water mixture on the flowers as you did would help the bees not get coated in it accidentally, but I’m not sure if they’d get enough of the mixture off the flowers or not… it depends how much stays on as droplets caught between pieces of the flowers.

  119. Hello! So I had left me window open and when I came home a found a bee in my fish tank! He managed to get through the lid and he was still alive and moving around on the surface quite a bit. I panicked as I am deathly afraid of any type of bug. I pulled him out of the fish tank and without thinking threw him outside. I quickly realized I shouldn’t have done that. It was late at night and 33 degrees outside and he was still wet. I went to see if he was still there and I didn’t see him at first so I grabbed the fishnet I scooped him up with to put it away. When I realized he was still on it I panicked yet again and threw it outside. Now I can’t find him and I realize he probably didn’t make it. Is there any chance he’ll make it home to the hive?

    1. I’d say the odds are stacked heavily against that bee, being tossed out at near freezing temperatures late at night while wet. Bees need the temperature to be above 55°F to fly.

      If there is a next time, take a deep breath, and think about how the bee feels… cold, wet, confused, unable to fly, and in need of a helping hand from a nearby human. When they’re cold and wet, there’s really no need to worry about them interacting with you… they’re almost immobilized at such times. Carefully deposit your bee into a sealed but ventilated box of some kind, and leave it somewhere warm overnight.

      Ideally (and I realize this is hard for someone afraid of bugs), you’d also offer a 50/50 mix of room temperature water with white sugar, on a spoon or tiny dish in front of the bee. It is unlikely the bee would be able to move much at all, but it might well put out its tongue to drink and regain some energy.

      Then you’d release the bee the next day, just when the temperature was heading into the warmest part of the day. That would offer the best chances for the bee’s well-beeing.

  120. Hello,
    I opened up my container of lettuce from the store and was started to see a tan bee. I live in a high rise on the 26th floor. Then we was moving around slowly. It was dark outside and hard to see, so I banged the container of lettuce on the balcony railing. I am so worried that he did not fly away. I love bees and no how desperately we need them. I live in miami and it is cooler out right now as a change. Do you think he was able to fly right away? Within 2 minutes of being pulled out of the fridge or do you think I killed him. Please let me know, I’m so upset!

    1. Hmm… well, I guess we can hope for the best, since insects are resilient, even when they fall. But… it needs to be around 55° F before a bee can fly properly. A refrigerated bee is unlikely to be able to move much or fly at all. Releasing at nighttime is the least desirable time, in terms of setting the bee up for success. I’m sorry to be the bringer of such news, but I feel I should be honest here.

      That said, a beetle can fall that distance and still be ok, but their delicate wings are protected inside their hardened wing cases. So it kind of depends how the bee landed when it fell, in terms of whether any damage was done to its wings. At best, it fell by chance on its legs, and then one would just hope it fell somewhere safe, as it would have needed to warm up before flying, probably only after the sun came out (or the temperature warmed up) sometime the following day.

      If there is ever a next time, the best thing to do is to transfer your bee into a ventilated box for the night, offering a 50/50 mix of room temperature sugar water (white sugar only) right after you find the bee, and then again offering that sugar mixture in the morning, before releasing your bee as the warmest part of the day is approaching. There’s no need to worry about getting stung by a cold bee, as they’re almost incapable of movement.

      As I said, we can hope for the best, as they’re resilient, but I’d say the odds were stacked against that bee’s survival. I’d like to end this on a positive note though, and there are other ways that you can help our buzzy friends in the future. Do you have a balcony garden? Here’s a great example of one. You can also spread the word to other people about the importance of bees, and what to do if someone finds a cold or distressed bee in the future!

  121. I have 2 bees in my room. Different them sugar water and they drank it up. Idk where they went though. I’m keeping my eye out. Now I’m at work and I found a wasp on the ground. Picked him up with a piece of paper. It’s cold here in Maryland and idk if I should put the bees and the wasp outside or just let them be. My cats might eventually go after the bees if they see them which I don’t want. And this wasp is at my job and I’m not sure if outside is safer or if I could find him a hiding spot here or what..he is sluggish. The bees in my room had hidden somewhere but I used regular white I’m not sure if I did the best thing now…i hope they’re ok…any advice would be great. I’m sitting here with the wasp…if anyone has an input on this guy too
    Thank you.

    1. I wouldn’t worry too much about the white sugar, it’s far better to use regular white sugar than something like brown sugar (which bees have trouble digesting properly) or honey (which can spread bee diseases).

      Definitely keep an eye out for your bees, especially with cats! Ideally keep the bees in a ventilated shoebox (or similar container) overnight, checking first to see if they want some sugar water (but probably taking it away overnight to avoid accidents). Then let them out in hopefully the warmest part of the day, again after offering sugar water. That way they’re warmed up and energized to find their way back to where they need to be (since they can’t live completely on sugar water).

      For the wasp, I’d put it out in the sun (if there is any) in the warmest part of the day. If you have any fruit that you could cut up and offer it first, that might be helpful too (I say fruit because it has natural sugars, like half a grape, a piece of melon, a berry, or similar). The wasp will also do better outside once it has some energy and has warmed up a bit from being inside :)

  122. I unknowingly took what appeared to be a honey bee to work with me, a distance of about 8 miles. I saw a black spot on the window when I got into the car but didnt think much of it. When I got to work I realised it was a bee that had taken refuge on the window. The weather was a chilly 50 degrees and the bee was sluggish. I scooped it up with a piece of paper and sat down in the car where with the heater on but left the door open in case it wanted to fly. It seemed to recover quickly and after grooming itself it started to crawl around like crazy on the piece of paper. It was so neat to watch it up close. However, I’m afraid to say that I accidentally dropped the paper with the bee and couldn’t find it after that. I’m hoping it flew away but that had me wondering. The bee is far from home and most likely from a hive. Did it have a good chance of survival in the cold and lost? What typically happens to bees that are inadvertently transplanted? It may sound silly but I really hope the little thing made it!

    1. I hope your little bee made it home too! She will have been right on the edge of her maximum foraging range at 8 miles, but we can hope that she recognized some landmarks from previous foraging trips and made her way back. Bees are certainly good at recognizing landmarks, even when transplanted, so long as they don’t end up so far out that they don’t recognize anything. Sometimes lone honey bees do join other hives too, so that’s also a possibility in this case. At least she was well-warmed for venturing out… 55 F is usually about as low as they like, but I’ve seen them out at just around 50 F too.

  123. I found a bee that my brother thought was dead. I thought it could be alive, so I took it in and warmed it up. It started moving and is doing great:) But now I don’t know what to do, because it’s winter and it’s all alone… :( I know it’s natural to hibernate, but will it die if it can’t find it’s hive? Please help! Thanks in advance. Oh and now it started snowing a little bit, I’m not sure how to care for a bee, or if it will like it… but I do have a tank.

    1. I’m glad your bee is doing better now you’ve brought it in! Ideally you’d let it warm up a bit (as you’ve done), and keep it overnight (if it’s late where you are) in a ventilated box of some kind.

      If it’s a large, really fluffy-looking bee, then it’s a bumble bee. Bumble bee queens hibernate through winter (except for some species in warmer winter climates). Bumble bee queens dig a hole in the soil in which to hibernate outdoors.

      If it’s a honey bee instead (a much thinner and less furry bee), then she will return to her hive in the morning.

      Either way, in the morning, make sure she has energy (offer a 50/50 sugar and room temp water mix). Then release her with the best part of the day ahead.

      Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with, thanks for caring about your bee!

        1. Well, she won’t freeze if you let her out well warmed and fed, with the best part of the day ahead of her. She’ll know her way back to her hive, where she’ll hibernate with the other bees. Honey bees form a ball to keep each other warm (with bees moving always through the ball from the cold edge to the center to keep warm). They eat from their honey stores during winter, and don’t come out again until spring.

      1. I really need some advice please Elise. I found a bumblebee in my garden this morning sitting on the edge of a garden step. Bought it into the conservatory and tried to give it sugared water but it was not interested. It has been walking about a bit but very slowly. I have a bug box outside so have brought it into the conservatory and it has now got in amongst the straw area. Think I will leave it there until tomorrow and see what is going on in the morning and if all seems well put the bug box back outside. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

        1. Depending on where you live (if you’re in a warmer winter climate), it’s possible to have winter-active colonies of bumble bees. It’s quite late in the year for bumble bees to be starting their hibernation, but if she’s a very large bumble bee, then she’s probably a queen.

          It sounds like you’re doing the right thing by keeping an eye on her, and hopefully she’ll be on her way in the morning. I’d try offering sugar water again if she seems sluggish, and if there’s any sunlight then definitely try placing her out in the sun to warm up as well, so that she has the energy to be on her way again!

  124. Just saved a queen bee this morning after looking on here for advise, She had got inside and landed in a vase full of water, looked as if she was about to give up so I scooped her out, wrapped her in some dry tissue covered box and placed it next to the heater fan, within 20mins she was drying herself off then flying around the kitchen then off she went. :)

    1. Wonderful news! That’s fantastic you helped your queen bumble bee, ensuring a new generation of little bees to come :)

  125. Good evening,
    I found a big sluggish bumble bee ( female as has pointy end..?) This evening on my decking. I’ve brought her in and given sugar water and she’s crawling all over the tub ive popped her, so warm and ready to go but it’s freezing out. Do i keep her in overnight or release her into the night?
    Thanks so much

    1. If she’s a large bumble bee still alive at this time of year, then she’s almost certainly a queen. Most of the time, bumble bees hibernate in winter, although in parts of southern England, there are winter-active populations. Either way though, my inclination is to keep her in a well ventilated container overnight, and release her once it’s warmer in the later morning. If she’s winter-active, she’ll find her way home then. If she needs to hibernate, better that she has energy for digging by staying in rather than wandering about outside overnight. I wouldn’t leave her somewhere too warm though… some place protected such as a garage or shed, or some “in-between” space, temperature-wise, would be my inclination.

      1. Thanks Elise! Will do, I live in Devon, so a little milder here but not tonight! Will get her settled in for the night :) will let you know all’s well tomorrow.

  126. Hi, I found what looks like a big bumble bee in the grass yesterday evening. It was very wet and look covered with mud – to the point where you couldn’t see the distinctive yellow colouring. It was super sluggish but still reacting to me when trying to move it somewhere safe. I don’t know if I did the right thing but I put it on a small plastic tray and poured a little water over it in an attempt to wash off the worst of the mud (I was worried that if it dried with that much mud it would make the bee completely stuck to itself). I offered it sugar water but it didn’t seem interested. I left it there overnight.

    This morning, the bee was still outside, still super sluggish. It’s a bit brighter today so I’ve moved it into a sunny patch. It’s still not interesting in sugar water. I’ll keep an eye on it but not sure if the best thing to do is to keep it inside in a box if it’s meant to be hibernating? It still looks very wet, hopefully the sunny patch will help it dry off.

    Any advice?


    1. Update! The bee seems to have dried off a bit and it walked off seemingly looking for shelter. I can see it’s colouring a bit better now. It’s so cold outside so I decided to put it in a small cardboard box and keep it inside for now. It seems quite content in the box. Not sure what to do now though!

        1. It’s hard to help them hibernate, but that is what she’ll need to do, assuming she’s a young queen bumble bee (and being a large bumble bee at this time of year, that’s almost certainly the case)! She’ll need energy to search out a spot, so it’s good you warmed her up a bit. Hopefully she’ll find what she feels is the perfect spot to dig a hole and curl up safely for winter :)

          1. Thanks for your reply. I just checked on her and she was outside on the concrete nowhere near a suitable digging spot. I brought her back in the warmth for a bit (it’s cold and dark outside now) and offered her some more sugar (still no interest!) then once she livened up again I’ve put her back outside somewhere more suitable for digging. Fingers crossed! Thanks for getting back to me :-)

  127. Hi, I found a large bee-like creature yesterday, maybe a type of bumble bee (?), in my kitchen sink. I kept hearing a buzzing noise and I finally went to look for the source, and the bee was in the sink, caught in the water in some dishes. I have a picture if you can tell me how to attach here or send to an email address.

    I kept the bee in a box with holes and fed it a little sugar water. I am concerned about releasing it because it can’t manage itself well and it is raining and very wet out. One wing is tattered at the end, and while the bee seems very alive, constantly cleaning its front and back legs, it ends up upside down most of the time after buzzing about in a haphazard manner, sometimes in circles. It has been 24 hours. I am wondering what I can do next. Maybe I can give it to our local wildlife center? It seems like it needs some rehab, considering its wing as well as its back – it is spiky and seems like something happened to it – it is permanently “wet” looking. I have it in a plain cardboard box, about 6″ by 8″ by 3″ and I have not added any grass or anything since the bee “scoots around” haphazardly, I don’t want to “lose” it if I open the box. I can see it through a clear plastic top and I feed it with a little syringe that I poke through a hole and drop the drops onto the box “floor”. I don’t want to put too much in since the bee scoots around on its feet as well as its wings/back (poor thing)!

    Thank you for any advice to get this guy/gal through to tomorrow! Let me know how to send a picture for identification if possible …

    1. Hi, I should have looked this up before I posted! I found a website called “What’s that Bug” and found out my bee is not a bee, but a Tachinid Fly. A very buzzy one! Sigh, well, I will see what my wildlife center has to say! Sorry for the diversion!

      1. Ah yes, a tachinid fly would be much more spiky looking, compared with a fluffy bee! I do need to put up some photos here soon of insects that are easily mistaken for bees :)

        It’s wonderful to hear that you cared so much about your fly… I love flies as well, and tachinid flies are good pollinators too! I’m sorry to hear about its wing. I once read of a fellow who repaired monarch wings successfully (so they could continue their migration), and I’ve always wished I could do something similar for other winged insects.

  128. Hi, I’m in the Uk and found a grounded bumble bee yesterday, I placed her (assume it’s a queen) somewhere safe and and put some honey down ( I have since replaced with sugar water) I hoped she would have gone to her nest before the night but this morning she was still there. Still sluggish but will raise legs as if threatened. It’s really cold today around 9c and I think she should be hibernating, I have brought her inside to warm up and hopefully let her go later (it’s midday here). Fingers crossed!

    1. Yes, if she is a queen, it’s time for her to be hibernating. I’d recommend stocking her up with as much sugar water as she can drink, as she’ll need a good bit of energy to dig a hole in which to hibernate. Hopefully she has already built up fat and glycogen reserves from foraging while there were still plenty of flowers about!

    1. Many folks use a shoebox or something similar with some sort of lining and holes punched in the lid. For the lining, it’s good not to use anything fluffy that the bee’s legs might get caught up in. An unlined box is actually just fine too. :)

  129. I have been saving bees from my pool since last fall but I didn’t know how to help them other than fish them out of my pool and lay them on leaves. So happy to have found your site. I just put 2 struggling honeybees in a small aquarium with plenty of ventilation, some leaves, flowers and drops of sugar water. The two bees are inside my house for the night warming up and regaining their strength. Thank you for all the good advice!!

    1. That’s wonderful to hear that you’re saving bees, and I’m glad my advice has helped. Every bee saved is one more bee in the world! Let me know how your bees are doing this morning :)

  130. Today I saw a couple wasps in the pool. I picked one of them up with my hand and let it sit in my hand and walk around drying off. Then I saw another and put it on my other hand eventually I had four of them all drying off in my hands. They werent mean they just needed some help drying off. The first one ended up curling up in a ball and died. I made a little spot with flowers for it to rest in peace on. All of them flew away after drying off. I am not sure if I did the right thing. Am I exposing them to the salt on my hands and its bad?

    1. You did all the right things… they love warming up on people! It’s perfectly safe—from an insect’s perspective—to be on your hand. The one that died, in your case, did so for some other reason, perhaps related to how long it might have been in the pool before you found it? In spring, I often notice that bees like to warm up on my skin. It’s a good way for them to get warm quickly!

  131. Yesterday my children were in the pool saying that they had found a wasp. I went to investigate and realized that it was a bumble bee. I rescued it and although very wet, it was still alive. I tried to put it in the sun, on some flowers, but the only thing it wanted to do was sit in my hand. After about 10 minutes it had dried off, squirted “water” out it’s back end and flew off. What was the water?

    1. That’s great that you saved your bumble bee :) And yes, they love to warm up on people’s hands, and it’s perfectly safe (for the bees) to let them do so. They’ll warm up fast! Typically bees don’t urinate noticeably (just small drops), but I once saw a photo of a bee with a stream shooting out its rear end. Perhaps because your bee had taken in so much excess water, it had more to expel more liquid than bees usually do?

    1. I’d say the likelihood of a sting is very, very low indeed, especially when the bee is cold, wet, or otherwise exhausted and in need of saving. That said, there is always the possibility (if the bee is female), however unlikely. Things you can do to minimize this possibility even further include using a leaf or something else to pick up the bee, and keeping a close eye on its behavior (if it’s very slow-moving, there’s really no reason to worry at all). And don’t worry if you see the bee’s abdomen pulsing… it’s just a way of moving air through its body, to breathe and warm itself!

  132. I cant believe this, I love Bumble Bees, and when i find one in the garden lying there exhausted, i mix a bit of sugar with water and let them crawl on my hand have a drink, then they sleep for 3 minutes and fly off revitalized. Well. i found one lying on the lawn in a bad state, so i did my usual, NOW he has stayed on my hand and wont go away, he stayed there whilst i mowed the lawn, and he is still here 1 hour later, he has stayed on my finger whilst I am typing, so i put him on a piece of kitchen roll next to me on the table. he then started searching for my finger after 10 minutes, i put my finger in front of him and he felt it with his antennas and then tried to climb on my finger, so I moved my finger to the left and he followed it, I did the same to the right and he followed it, I have let him climb back on my hand and he has now gone to sleep, so here i am 3 hours later he is still on my hand, he walks around finds a different spot on my finger or palm then goes to sleep again, I put him on a piece of white roll on tha table whilst i had my meal, now you will find this unbelievable, he panicked and walked around the table very quickly, I put my hand out and he climbed back onto it and settled down went to sleep. incredible. at to prove all this i have taken photographs, you are welcome to look at them. just ask and i will send them. at this very moment he is stretching his bck legs and just buzzed his little wings, hes adorable, and i am a 63yr old guy..

    1. That is a really charming story :)

      I can definitely bee-lieve it too (for one thing, they do like the warmth from our bodies). Though I’ve never heard of a bee sounding quite so attached to one person!!

      I’d love to see your photos when you get a chance to send them (see my email to you), and perhaps post one or two with your permission? It’s always nice for people to see how gentle and adorable bees are, and how there’s no reason to be afraid to help them!

    2. Hello John, My name is Amanda.
      I just read your bee story, and I am completely moved.
      I just saved a bee with some honeycomb & a drop of water, and was wondering if other people had done the same.
      That’s when I ran across your adorable bee story.

      I am quite curious to know what happened to your little bee friend. Did he stick around for much longer afterwards?
      I am assuming he had to go back to his hive eventually… Did he ever return? I hope he did.

      Do you still have pictures?
      I hope I’m not being too forward…
      Thanks for reading my email.
      Have A Blessed Day!
      Amanda B.

    3. I found a honey bee yesterday morning dead between the slats on my outside table, it was the 2nd November so the night had been cold. I thought the poor thing must had ran out of energy. I got into my car to go out and had a thought. I wondered if I put the bee into the sun maybe it wasn’t dead just in a hibernate state. I left it in the leaf of my Cala Lily. I came home 4 hours later and it was moving about in the leaf. I took it into the house and gave it some sugar water. I left it over night and was pleased to find it very active the following morning. I gave it some more sugar water and released it into my hot lips shrub.

      1. That’s wonderful! They can indeed appear dead when they’re very cold. Thank you for thinking of the possibility, and saving your bee as a result :)

  133. Hello :-) I have recently started providing water to an ever increasing number of honeybees. It is super hot right now in my part of Texas and though I’ve tried to create shade over the water source (flat dishes with rocks and clear glass marbles) it’s still super hot! Are they not affected by standing on the sun heated rocks drinking that hot water? I’ve found a couple of bees that died in the water but hundreds are drinking and it’s become quite the place to hangout, it would seem! I am just super worried for them. I do refresh the water multiple times each day, but the heat is extreme and the water is hot within minutes. Thank you for any input!

    1. Honey bees can take quite a bit of heat, so I wouldn’t be too worried about the water temperature. No matter what the season, they keep their own hives around 95 degrees (the optimal temperature for developing bees). It’s a little hard to say for sure how hot your water is without measuring it. If you’re concerned, what I would do is to use light- or white-colored dishes with clear glass marbles and light-colored rocks. It would be just a bit cooler for them that way.

      The reason so many honey bees are coming to visit you is to bring water back to their hives :) They store the water in a special stomach, often called the honey stomach or crop (usually used for nectar). The water is then used to maintain their hive temperature and cool their developing young. They spread the water in a thin layer across sealed brood, or along the edges of cells containing larvae and eggs. Other bees then fan the water with their wings, evaporating it and creating a cooling effect (in a similar way to an air conditioner)!

      1. A note about my previous comment: when you’re providing water in a dish for lots of bees (on a hot summer day), make sure only to use water (don’t add sugar). Honey bees need pure water in order to cool their hives in summer. Also, sugar is not ideal food for any bee… it’s good as an emergency measure (getting energy to an exhausted bee fast), but it’s important that bees get all the additional nutrients from flower nectar in their daily lives.

  134. Hi i have been finding dead bees of every species around my garden i fear a neighbour is using spray pesticides i found a red tailed bee in a poor shape yesterday looked on the outside beautiful but not moving very fast pulling her legs into her body i fed her sugar water which she took and sheltered her for the night she seems to become more active after a feed but is still not moving as i would expect i have rescued many bees over the years her wings are moving at times she cleans herself her legs are moving slowly but i am on night number 2 and there is no sign of improvement just the same im hoping she makes it through the night is there anything i can do with pesticide poisoning? I have approached the neighbour but i didnt get far…

    1. I fear you may be right with your diagnosis of acute pesticide poisoning, given the dead bees of other species you’re finding in your garden :( My first thought is to keep doing exactly what you’re doing, just making the bee as comfortable as possible. My next thought is to hope that flushing her system with sugar water might help remove some of the toxins from her body. I do not know of any other way to help her though, I wish I did… I don’t think there’s anything else that can be done. And I’m sorry to hear about your neighbor, it seems impossible to convince some people of the vital importance bees have to all of us.

  135. I just saved a bee from my pool. It was holding onto the hose for the vacuum and kept getting swamped by ripples. I managed to get them out of the water but it wouldn’t leave the hose until it had completed cleaning. I was so scared but when it stuck it’s toung out and started cleaning it’s antenna. I thought it was the cutest thing.

      1. I was terrified. But yeah they are cute. The problem is when they do a top gun fly by 1/2 an inch from my head and they scare the crap out of me

  136. I think we might have given the bee too much sugar water (before reading this page!) and it looks a little bit wet now….and still looks like it is struggling. What should we do – give the bee time to drink more of the sugar water before moving it (again….as we moved it from the floor on a bust high street to the floor of our balcony), or should we try and give it a chance to wash some of the sticky sugar water off? I don’t want to do more harm than good :(

    1. I’d advise holding back on anything further and just letting the bee rest on your balcony. I would give the bee plenty of time to clean itself off, and not disturb it further by moving it, unless it’s in danger of getting far messier still if it’s near a large puddle of sugar water. If it is near such a puddle, instead of moving the bee, try using a paper towel to absorb some excess (not on the bee itself, just nearby). I’d then let the bee alone, because moving it may stress it further. She (or he) will be able to clean their body off given time, and will absorb energy from the sugar water by doing so too.

      I hope this helps! Bees can clean themselves off very effectively, and I would just leave this bee to do so in its own time. Having had the sugar water to begin with should have helped, even if it did get everywhere! I’d just advise against any further intervention until the bee starts to look as though it’s recovering and moving about more again. Also, if it’s in the sun, perhaps shade it a bit (without moving it) so that it has more of a chance to clean off the sugar water before it dries.

      I wish you and your bee all the best! Thank you for caring about this bee and taking good care of it :)

  137. Um this isn’t really about a wet bee but when the beekeeper came to help us extract the honey the other day a couple bees got stuck in the honey and their wings were coated. I think they made it since I didnt see them where I placed them outside when I went back out but is there a proper way to address this problem?

    1. Their sisters will help clean them off :) It really takes another bee (or few bees) to address this problem. They’re able to clean each other off in a way we never could, using their tongues to remove all the honey. I’ve seen it once and been amazed at how they can clean each other up! So you did the right thing, just getting them out of the honey!

  138. Hi there. Today I found a bee in my pool. I have no idea how long it was in there for but when I got it out it was not moving. I let it go for a few moments thinking it was dead. Then about 3 minutes later I nudged it and it’s arms moved. I’ve been trying to put flowers near by it and give it a warm area however it’s about 60° f where I live and I’m concerned that the bee won’t get the sun that it needs to dry…. it’s also almost night… is there any alternatives I can do to dry it??? Thank you.

    1. Do you have a heat lamp that you could place perhaps a foot away or so? Or perhaps you might put the bee in something like a shoebox with a few smaller-than-bee-sized-holes for air, and then bring it into your house where it’s warmer for the night? You could then release the bee in the morning if she’s doing ok.

      It’d be great if you could also mix up some sugar water too, just normal sugar (not brown), mixed 50/50 with room temperature water. You could put a few drops on a small spoon near the bee in the box. If her tongue is hanging out, you might even maneuver a drop directly under her tongue?

      1. Hi there, thank you for the immediate response…. I’d love to take the bee inside however I have two cats…. The bee started to walk on its own. I put it in the bottom of a flower pot so it can easily get in and out…. I also put clovers in it… and it has the option to get out and roam, but it won’t even when I nudged it it kinda just moved around in there. I tried to give it some sugar water however it completely ignored it…. do you think I should try to put it in my shed with the show box idea or let it on its own??

        1. I probably wouldn’t put her in the shed, only because if she wants to leave, it’ll be harder for her (I was just thinking of warming her up by bringing her indoors, and keeping her safe from escape by putting her in a box). If you were to put her in the shed, I’d leave whatever she’s in open (flower pot or box), with the door ajar too so that she can easily leave if she’s interested in doing so.

          As long as she has some food easily accessible, I’m hopeful for her chance of success! Bees are accustomed to being cold at night, so don’t be surprised still to find the bee where you left her in the morning. Hopefully with the morning sun she’ll warm up (that is, if she doesn’t leave before then). Walking on her own already is a very good sign indeed! :)

          And if you do put her somewhere sheltered for the night, and she’s still there in the early morning, I’d make sure to move her into the bright sun as soon as it’s up, to speed her recovery further! The only reason to shelter her for the night, even outdoors, is that she’ll be a target for predators until she’s feeling better and can move quickly and fly again. But she might have her own plans (if she starts feeling much better), which is why I suggest leaving a door (or window) open for her so that she can go back to her nest if she’s able!

  139. Hi I found two bees in my pool today I scooped them out and put them on some kitchen roll I tried drying them off as much as I could and blew on them to dry them more then I have put them on more kitchen roll and left them on my windowsill in the sun will they be alright they are not moving at all and I fear they may already be dead

    1. Thank you for taking the time to scoop bees out of your pool!

      I fear though that they may have been in there too long, judging from your comments. If they do not respond or move at all when you gently nudge them, then they are indeed probably dead :( Unfortunately, they will have expended a great deal of energy trying to free themselves from the water, before you came to save them.

      If you find other bees that are still moving in your pool in the future, try giving them a 50/50 mix of sugar with room temperature water, placing several drops near them. This will help restore their energy after a near-drowning experience.

      It’s also a good idea to let bees air-dry in the sun, as it’s very difficult to dry them off. Bees can recover well after getting a bit wet, but the longer they spend in the water, the more trouble they’ll have. Giving them sugar-water and a safe, sunny spot to dry off helps in most cases.

      One idea to help is also to put out a shallow dish of water with stones in it for perches, placing it near your pool. Bees get thirsty too, and if they’re looking for a drink, they’ll find a safer place this way!

  140. i just found about 10 sluggish bees in my apartment’s stairwell (around midnight). i scooped them up and brought them out to my pool area where there are plants they can rest on. i found about 10 more bees in the pool and 20 just around the door. i scooped all the pool bees out ,and i could hear and feel them buzz, but there won’t be sunlight for another 7 hours. will the bees be ok? and do you have any idea why so many are crawling, not flying, down a stairwell and flying into the pool at midnight? is it the light in the pool maybe? thanks!

    1. This has me a bit stumped. I wonder if you might be able to send me a photo of your bees (if they’re still around)? Or do you happen to know if they’re honey bees, bumble bees, or some other type of bee?

      Bees aren’t attracted to lights at night, so that’s a bit odd too. Almost all bees (with a few tropical exceptions) are day-flying only, and stay in hives, holes in the ground, hollow tunnels in wood or dried stems, or flowers at night (depending on the type of bee and its gender).

      How are they doing this morning (if they’re still there)? As for flying into the pool, they may be thirsty (bees need water too). What I do is put out a shallow dish with some pebbles in it (for landing perches) on hot days. But that still doesn’t explain why they’re in the stairwell or around the door, which is really puzzling me!

      I’m hoping that seeing a photo of the bees will shed more light on this, because it does depend on the type of bee, in terms of what the reason might be for where you found them.

      Thank you for rescuing them from the pool and indoors, they certainly shouldn’t be in those places!

      1. It turns out these were honey bees. Apparently a colony had established itself on the roof of the building and needed relocating. If you ever know of honey bees that are unwanted in their location, call a local beekeeper. They will either come to fetch the bees themselves with proper equipment, or put you in touch with someone who will!

  141. I found a bee in my paddling pool today – I scooped it out and gave it a little bit of honey!! ( then I read this!)
    It is 7pm so no sunlight! Where is the best place for him overnight??

    1. How is your bee now? If your bee is mostly dry and moving around well (wings buzzing a bit?), I’d suggest putting your bee outdoors somewhere that looks safe and sheltered near where you found it (but not too close to the pool)! If your bee is still wet and not moving around much, I’d suggest putting him or her in a shoebox with holes punched for air, and waiting to release the bee in the early morning. This would keep your bee safe from predators while recovering. A snack of sugar water might be just the thing for the morning too, if you do keep your bee overnight… but your bee might well be nicely dry and just buzz right off by then!

  142. I found a bee who’s right wing was pretty tattered he was in the sink and I got him out with a spoon. I put him on a tissue after letting him drink his fill of sugar and water as said above. He appears to be sleeping. Do bees sleep? Email me please

    1. Is it sunny where you are? Can you put your bee out in the sun? They do rest and sleep, but not during the day (though they’re late up and early to bed, typically). Tattered wings are usually a sign of age, though if it’s just one wing, then maybe something else caused it (like struggling in the water). Was the bee simply struggling weakly when you got him (or her) out, or was the bee still energetic at that point?

      Thank you so much for caring enough to look this up and to try to save your bee :) Fingers crossed, your bee will get better… warming up in the sun is a good way to dry off and recharge after a near-drowning experience! Was it just water in the sink, or soapy water?

  143. Hi, I have a phobia of flying insects but understand the importance of bees. I just found a (large!) bumble bee in my toilet!

    I was about to flush it when I realised it was moving! I scooped it out with a mug (shouting “please don’t fly!” At it the whole time) and tipped it on to outside window ledge in my kitchen. I gave it some sugar water. It was upside down so I used a spoon to help it stand up. I was SO scared the whole time. I shut the window for 5 mins to wash my hands, and when I opened it the bee was gone. I hope it survived.

    Anyways my question is WHY was it in my toilet!? How did it get in my house, and why would it go in the toilet! Can they swim like that? How long do you reckon it would have been there for? I’m trying to figure out if it came in when I got home from work or if it was already in the house. I’m so frightened in case there are other bees! Please can you email me?

    1. That’s so great that you saved your bee!! :) She would certainly have not been in your toilet for long. They can only survive for some number of minutes (not quite sure how long) in water before drowning. It’s hard to say if she was already in the house, or if she came in later when you got back home. Either way, she likely stumbled into the bathroom, perhaps looking for a drink of water?

      If she was a big bumble bee, she was probably a queen bumble bee. She’ll be alone, so there won’t be others in your home, not to worry! She would have got confused once indoors, and if it was cool indoors, she would have been slowed down by that… and by falling in the water! Poor little bee, but you did all the right things, and not finding her on your window ledge afterwards is a really good sign! Giving her sugar water is absolutely the thing to do to help her on her way too :) And since she was a big bumble bee, probably a queen, you’ll have saved more than just her life, because she’ll start a little bumble bee colony of her own (somewhere safely outdoors), which is great, because we need every bee!

      If you’d like to put out water for bees (they need water too sometimes), a shallow dish with little pebbles in it is a great way to do that. Sometimes it’s hard for them to find water that’s easy for them to drink from without risking drowning!

        1. It depends on the type of sugar (as above). It is also important (as I indicate on this page) only to feed bees sugar water in an emergency, not typically. However, if fed in an emergency, it enables folks to save bee lives. I’ve heard many such success stories, as well as having had it work for me personally many times. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust also recommends sugar water in such cases: