Friday, May 23, 2014

A friend to the sleeping bumble bee

First thing this morning we headed out to the wood pile to look for bugs. What we found instead was what looked like a sleeping bee just lying in the yard.

Sierra ran away screaming... "I don't like bees mommy".

I coaxed her back talking to her about how gentle bumble bees are. Talking about how bumble bees will not sting you unless they feel threatened. Talking about how much we need bees to help pollinate our flowers to make our food.

"Look sweetie, he's so gentle I can even touch him right now and he stays so still. Do you want to try?".

Me: "Come here and see".
Sierra hesitantly comes over...
Me: "Do you want to touch him carefully? He is very soft"

and she bends down carefully and does touch him! Overcoming her fear of the bee.

Sierra: "Why is he so still? Is he dead?"
Me: "No he's a live, I think he is just cold and needs to warm up and get energy to fly home"

Sierra: "Where is his home?"
Me: "Probably in a pile of leaves somewhere...I think bumble bees nest in leaves on the ground...let's go inside and see if we can find out for sure."

Sierra: "Wait mommy, if he's cold he needs a blanket" and she covers him up with some leaves.

Inside we did a little research... HERE and HERE too. We learned about their nests HERE and also learned  how to make a nesting area for bumble bees.

We learned that:
-Only female bumble bees sting and only when they are threatened
-Bumble bees do not swarm like other varieties of bees.
-Bumble bees are native to Canada unlike some other honeybees
-They have smaller nests (400 bees compared to others having 50,000) and store less food
-Bumble bees are hairier to keep them warmer when they need to scavenge for food when it is colder out
-Bumble bees lift one middle leg as a warning that you are too close so back off (as seen in one of the above pictures) and they apparently do not like human breath
-Bumble bees have smelly feet and leave a scent on the flowers when they are done to warn the next bee that the food is gone
-At rest a bumble bees body temperature falls to it's surroundings
-You can help boost a sleeping bees energy by providing it with a drink of sugar and water by dissolving equal amounts of warm water and sugar until thou thoroughly mixed

Learning that we can help boost his energy by mixing up a solution of equal parts sugar and water in a small tray we quickly did so and laid it beside the flower garden.

I went back to get the bee and carried him to the garden on a leaf.

I laid him down beside the shallow dish and he clumsily crawled right into it...rolling over.

FYI tonight while writing this post I also learned that we should have put just drops of sugar water down for him as you don't want to get his hairs and wings wet with the sticky substance. This bee crawled right in and flipped over in the liquid in his clumsy state which is apparently NOT good :(

 I left him there for a bit as I wasn't sure if he was drinking or not and I didn't want him to drown himself, so I moved the dish to the side and left him by some flowers. He moved very clumsily still but faster then he did before the sugar water treat and by the time the day warmed up he was gone. I like to think we helped him on his way...perhaps just the warm sun would have been enough...we will never know for sure.
Later in the day Sierra says to me..." I know I touched that bee mom but I still don't like bees. I mean I like bees because we need them for our food but I don't like to be near bees. I only touched that one because he was so still".

So even if she only overcame her fear of this particular bee, I do hope that the next time a bee is close to her she will think about this bee we helped and it will ease her fear a bit.

When we went inside to tell Aayla about the bee she was playing with some bubble wrap that just arrived in a package. After we told her what we have been doing outside she ran and got her Minion hat (looks like a bumblebee and began dancing on the bubble wrap like a busy bee flying all around...truly priceless.

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