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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Aid for Bees

Twice in the past week I've had to administer first-aid to bees! No I'm not joking. Luckily I had just been reading about this in last week's issue of Garden News. At this time of year in particular, with the onset of Autumn, bees are prone to exhaustion. It's not surprising as, in one day, they visit more than 5000 flowers to gather precious nectar, while pollinating the flower at the same time. As Summer is drawing to a close, the number of flowers are dwindling and bees are having to work extra hard to source food.

Why are bees so important?

* They pollinate a substantial percentage of the fruit and vegetables that we eat and feed to our livestock.

* They pollinate plants that we get our clothes from, e.g. cotton.

* They pollinate plants that line rivers and streams that control erosion.

* They pollinate many plants world-wide, plants that form forests, grasslands and jungles that provide habitat for animals everywhere.

So please, if you come across a bee lying, apparently lifeless, on the ground and you have sugar and water to hand, here is what you do:

Mix two tablespoons of sugar with one tablespoon of water. Put it in a shallow container and place it near your exhausted bee or transfer the bee (on a trowel or similar suitable object) to a plant and pour some of the sugar mixture on the plant next to it. The glucose mixture will provide a lifesaving fix and, when it has recovered, the bee will fly off on its way to continue its valuable work.

On both occasions, I was happy to witness 'my' bees recover after about an hour.

Here's a list of just some of the plants that bees pollinate:

Okra; Kiwi fruit; Onion; Cashew; Celery; Pawpaw; Starfruit; Brazil nut; Beet; Mustard; Rapeseed; Broccoli; Cauliflower; Cabbage; Brussel Sprouts; Turnip; Red & Green Pepper; Papaya; Safflower; Caraway; Chestnut; Watermelon; Tangerine; Coconut; Coriander; Hazlenut; Cantaloupe melon; Cucumber; Pumpkin, Marrow; Quince, Carrot, Buckwheat; Fig; Fennel; Strawberry; Soybean; Cotton; Sunflower; Walnut; Flax; Lychee; Apple; Mango; Alfalfa; Passion fruit; Avocado; Lima Bean; Kidney Bean; Runner Bean; Apricot; Cherry; Plum; Sloe; Almond; Peach; Nectarine; Pomegranate; Pear; Blackcurrant & Redcurrant; Rosehips; Raspberry; Elderberry; Sesame; Eggplant; Cocoa; Clover; Blueberry; Cranberry; Broadbean & Grape.

This list is by no means complete and contains crop plants only...... then there are all the wildflowers and garden flowers that our bees pollinate also. Working from dawn to dusk all Summer long, they deserve our utmost respect.


  1. I had no idea you could administer first aid to failing bees. Fascinating!

  2. Neither did I, IB. :D It's good to know there are some things we can do to help them.

  3. I didnt know this, thanks for posting it. I will have to tell my kids, who are currently scared of bees..I bet they will be the first to report a bee "down" and insist we mix up some sugar and water.

  4. Hi Nancy. :) I don't blame kids for being scared of bees considering much of the adverse media attention they get, such as horror films, etc. If you do come across a bee in need of 'medical' attention, it will be extremely docile and probably too exhausted to sting.