Should you take a bumblebee home?

 by Jack Reid, Outreach and Volunteering Officer at Bumblebee Conservation Trust

So, you kidnapped a bumblebee…

Each year, the Trust receives dozens of e-mails and phone calls from well-intentioned beenappers who have been out and about and found a tired-looking lone bumblebee that they’ve rescued and taken home with them to care for. In case you’ve been considering the practicalities of taking a bumblebee home, we have written up this useful guide to caring for your new friend, without taking it home!

Should I take a bumblebee home?

Queen Buff-tailed bumblebee

No! Bumblebees have their own homes.

At all times throughout the year, bumblebees have important jobs to be doing – whether it’s queens who are searching for a nest site or gathering pollen for their first clutch of workers; workers who are out, working hard to gather enough pollen and nectar to support their queens and siblings; or males who, despite their work ethic, are vital to ensuring there is a next generation of bumblebees.

For this reason, it’s very important to leave the bumblebees to what they’re supposed to be doing – they can’t support their nests if they can’t get back to them!

What should I feed bumblebees?

Bees need flowers!

Bumblebees are exceptional at identifying the nutrients and foods they need when they are foraging on flowering plants out in the wild. Our knowledge of bumblebee feeding habits is constantly evolving – but nobody knows what they need better than the bumblebees themselves. So we recommend that, rather than taking a tired-looking bumblebee home, you first consider whether they are in danger where they are, or if they’re simply resting!

For more information on if and when to move bumblebees, and when and what to feed them, please click here.

When should I release them?

Bumblebee sugar water feeding – a last resort!

The best time to leave your bumblebee alone was before you picked them up. The second best time is now!

Bumblebees navigate using landmarks, like buildings, or rocks, or trees. If they can’t find locations that they recognise, they may struggle to find their way back home to their nest when you release them.

If possible, bumblebees should be released near to where you found them. If not, placing them outside on or near to flowering plants is the next best option.

So what do I do if I find a tired bumblebee?

This is a great question – for information on what to do if you find a tired bumblebee, and when to feed, and/or possibly relocate them, please click here.

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