Saving One Bee At A Time

imageIn our garden we have loads of plants that the bees absolutely love. At the moment as I write this there are pots full of bedding plants, the remains of our foxgloves, a bright yellow sedum which they seem to spend their time hovering over, and evening primrose. We also have a blue Ceanothus bush which is outside my healing room and on some days the whole bush quivers with bees and it sounds as if the bush itself is buzzing. There is nothing better than sitting in the garden and watching the bees, dip into one flower then another and another.

There are apparently 101 native species of bee in Ireland where I live, 20 species of bumble bee and 80 solitary bee species plus the honey bee. The bees that visit us seem to change as the summer slips by. Sometimes there is more than one species here at a time with each having their favourite flowers to feast on. The ones we are quite happily spending so much of our time trying to save at the moment though are one of the species of fat bumble bees.

The problem is that they like the plants in the back garden and the front. This would normally not be any problem except for the fact that in between back and front gardens is our conservatory. When it’s hot the door is wide open as well as the windows opposite. The bees fly in through the door and then fly straight into the non opening windows where they wear themselves out bumping off the glass. They seem totally oblivious to air movement and so are unable to work out how to escape even if they are within centimetres of escape. If we see them quickly then swooping them up in a tea towel and helping them back outside works well, until they fly back in that is. We are never sure if it’s the same bee or not so we try and put them out the window rather than the door to help them reach their destination. There us something amazing about holding a tiny buzzing mass in your hand, safely inside the tea towel of course.

When they are too worn out to put straight outside though we have found that a teaspoon of sugary water seems to perk them up quickly and they are soon ready to be helped on their way. I read somewhere recently that bees get dehydrated quickly and that putting a shallow bowl filled with stones and water gives them somewhere to rehydrate. We haven’t yet tried this mainly because the only bees that seem to be having problems are the ones who come inside, but it is something that we will sort out soon.

If possible I actually put most creatures that arrive in our house by accident back outside rather than let anything die but it is the bees that I am very mindful of. Like everywhere in the world many of our native bees are under threat so it feels even more important to help them in any way possible and if a teaspoon of sugared water and a hand to find their way out hopes them it is fine by me. I can’t save the entire bee population but I can help save them – one bee at a time.