How to tell if a bee is tired or dying

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Bees are social species and are renowned for their hard-working nature. A honey bee colony can lose thousands of its workers each day. But how can you tell if a bee is tired or dying?

Bumblebees are very hard-working insects, but at times you may see them crawling on the ground.

In these times, it is difficult to tell if the bee is injured, wet, cold, tired or dying.

Worker bees only live for a few weeks (typically four to six weeks) as adults and then die naturally.

Therefore it is quite normal to see a small number of dead bees in the garden.

In cities, tired bees are a common sighting because there are fewer flower stops on the way back to the hive.

You may come across bees on the sides of paths or parks as they do not have the energy to complete their foraging mission.

The autumnal season also leads to more tired bumblebees because they need to fly further to collect the nectar and pollen they need.

These bees will be older than they were in the summer months and therefore they can easily run out of energy and become dehydrated easily.

How to tell if a bee is tired or dying

You may often see tired bees crawling along the floor instead of buzzing around.

Recent research from the Queen Mary University of London showed queen bees spend most of their time resting on the ground between very short dispersal flights.

Bees do not spend very much time feeding and therefore rest is an important part of their daily routine.

Bumblebees have a high metabolism which means even if they are full of nectar, they are just 40 minutes away from starvation.

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When bees are in trouble, they may need an energy boost.

You can help an exhausted bee by moving it gently to a flower to enable it to recuperate.

If there are no bee-friendly flowers around, you may want to mix together a sugar solution.

However, this should be a last resort as a sugar-water solution does not actually offer any nutritional benefits to the bee.

When bees are close to death they will often cling to flowers and look quite lethargic.

When they die, they will drop off the flowers and you may find a number of these in your gardens, near bee-friendly flowers.

You may also find dead bees and larvae near nest entrances.

This is because dying bees are removed from the nest so that the disease does not spread across the hive.

Ageing bees have noticeably darker, black bodies as they have lost their hair.

Often these bees have ragged wings and there are some lethargic and slow-moving bees which contain parasites, diseases, or injuries unseen to the naked eye.

You can tell if a bee has been poisoned if its tongue is hanging out.

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