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Honey Bee

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. Sometimes people rescue bees from water (tip: use a leaf to scoop them up!) Other times they see a bee that seems unusually sluggish and in need of a helping hand (often in early spring, when bumble bee queens have emerged from hibernation, but few plants are blooming).

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.

Quick Recipe

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

Mix vigorously, then offer small portion

If your bee is sluggish, extra nourishment may be just the thing! Try mixing up some organic cane sugar or refined white sugar crystals into a solution. A 1:1 mix (50%/50%) is appropriate, and this can be achieved simply by stirring the sugar rapidly in room temperature water.

It’s also important to avoid brown sugar (which contains extra solids from molasses, which are difficult for bees to digest), and do not use boiling water (when sugars caramelize at high heat, they can create indigestible and possibly bee-toxic compounds). Place a few drops near the bee’s head (if you see its tongue outstretched, place the drops right near the tip). 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!

Last year, I read the most charming story about someone’s encounter with a bumblebee queen and how she rescued it with sugar water and a night in a shoebox. Read her inspiring story: The Plight of the Bumblebee

Following this advice should help your bee on its way to living another day 😌 It may take a few minutes or a few hours to recover. Don’t be surprised to find it gone if you’re not keeping a constant eye on it! 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, you likely helped more than hindered.

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).

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

    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 :)

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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 sugar..so 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.
    -Bridgette

    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 :)

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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 :)

  8. 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
    Kayleigh

    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.

  9. 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?

    Thanks

    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 :-)

  10. 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.

  11. 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. :)

  12. 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 :)

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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 :)

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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 :)

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. 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?

  26. 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!

What do you think?