A few years ago, on one of our many chilly mornings, I found five or six bumblebees all snuggled together in a single flower. Though it was pretty obvious they were bundled for warmth, I wanted to know why they'd chosen this method. I called my go-to person on all science questions, botanist Teresa Sholars. She said some species of plants actually increase their metabolism at night to attract bees. Bumblebees shiver to keep warm. A bunch of shivering bumblebees inside a flower insure they will become covered in pollen, and insuring pollination for the flower. How bloody cool is that!
I, unlike bees, love sleeping in cold room with lots of blankets. This morning, I found a very numb bumblebee in my bathroom sink. At first I thought it was dead, but when a leg moved, I edged it onto a piece of toilet paper and carried it outside.
Nearly every morning, I'm awakened by ravens gathering to follow my animal-loving, but rather peculiar neighbor, who goes by, rain or shine, just at dawn, pulling a cooler full of stale bread, which she drags to the top hill to feed the assemblage.
This morning, I'm on my upper deck trying to encourage my bee, which has crawled off the toilet paper and is now on my fingertip, into a nasturtium bloom, when I hear my neighbor coming along the road, talking to the ravens, which are flying along behind her, and I think aloud-- "Charlotte, you poor old thing, you're not all there," --then I catch sight of my reflection in the sliding glass door. Staring back at me is a seventy-plus-year-old woman, in her pajamas, with a severe case of bed-hair, and a bumblebee on the tip of her finger.
P.S. I ended up carrying the bumblebee downstairs, put it on a piece of paper near a lamp, gave it a drop of honey, and covered it with plastic lid with a breathing hole. It drank the honey, and when it warmed up and started to buzz, I took it outside and let it go.
"The bumblebee is either sick, too old or too cold to fly. If it
is sick or infected with a parasite
then I'm afraid
there is not much that can be done. However if you find a grounded bumblebee
early in the year, just at the start of the first warmer
days, then it is probably a queen. She may have been caught out in a sudden
shower or a cold spell. If the temperature of the thorax falls below 30 o
C the bumblebee cannot take off (see temperature regulation
The best thing you can do it pick
her up using a piece of paper or card, put her somewhere warmer, and
When she has warmed and fed she will most likely fly off. You can
using a 30/70 mixture of honey and water in a pipette or eye
dropper, or just a
drop of this on a suitable surface within her reach, but be careful
not to wet
her hair or get her sticky. By saving a queen you may have saved an
nest. If the weather is really unsuitable for letting her go, or if
it is getting dark, you can keep her for a day or so if you are willing
to feed her." Bumblebee.org