This Don’t Step on a Bee Day (10th July), Sean McMenemy advises the UK public on how to save grounded bees – and how to support endangered bee species during their busiest season.
To raise awareness about how to support British bees, wildlife experts are advising the public the correct way to save any bees they see struggling this summer.
According to a recent study by Buglife, the UK’s flying insect population has declined by 60% over the last 20 years. Plus, new research by The British Bee Charity has uncovered that nearly a third of Brits have no idea why bees are important to the environment.
Bees play a pivotal role as go-betweens in nature’s life cycle, pollinating the plants we eat and encouraging our natural environment to flourish.
If encountering a bee on the ground, it’s vital to help them in the correct way, allowing them to recover and continue thriving.
Sean McMenemy, garden wildlife expert and director of bee house suppliers Ark Wildlife, says: “Honey, brown sugar and artificial sweeteners should never be offered to bees. Commercially available honey may carry pathogens that could infect bees if it were fed to them.
“Bees are cold-blooded and need external warmth before they can fly. A sudden dip in temperature can knock them out of the sky.
“By contrast, and perhaps more surprising to some, is overheating. Bees use up tremendous energy beating their wings and this produces a lot of heat. So, once they’re warm enough to fly, they then need to shed the excess heat generated by their wing muscles. On a very hot day, they simply cannot lose this excess heat from their thorax quickly enough and become grounded until they cool down.”
How to identify and help a struggling bee
Sean says: “It’s always better to wait than intervene. Bees often take a break and a little inactivity doesn’t have to mean the bee’s in difficulty. If a bee remains in the same place for longer than 30-45 minutes, it’s likely to need help.
“While sugar water solution is not an ideal food and poses a risk to the bee if the sticky solution gets on its body, it can also save the life of a bee in distress. Unlike raw sugar, it is digestible by bees. If a bee needs an energy boost to survive, only a white sugar and water solution is recommended by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.”
Bee charities you can support
If you’re feeling inspired to help support bees, here are some charities you can donate to, which do excellent work in conserving the bee population:
- The Bee Friendly Trust are particularly focused on creating urban habitats for bees
- The Wildlife Trusts are involved in a number of projects that protect bees
- Give Bees a Chance aims to boost public awareness of the importance of bees
- The Bumblebee Conservation Trust work to save bumblebees through science-led activities