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Gardeners Told to Give Exhausted Bees an Energy Drink 200

In an effort to help Britain's declining bee population, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is urging gardeners to leave out a homemade energy drink for tired bees. The RSPB says that a mix of two tablespoons of sugar with a tablespoon of water makes a perfect bee-boosting drink. Val Osborne, head of wildlife inquiries at the RSPB, said, "Many people keep seeing bees on the ground and assume they are dead, but chances are they are having a rest. Much like us, a sugary drink could boost their energy levels and a simple sugar and water combination will be a welcome treat."


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Gardeners Told to Give Exhausted Bees an Energy Drink

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:34AM (#29038997)

    The bees will have trouble sleeping at night and by the end of the week they will be in a barely conscious stupor.

    Trust me.

    • Not to mention that those short-sighted bees would require pretty complex (and therefore expensive) glasses and/or contact lenses.
    • Re:Short Sighted (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @07:26PM (#29045535) Homepage Journal

      ..And just how much does the society for the protection of birds know about bees anyways? One theory for colony collapse disorder is malnutrition resulting from beekeepers feeding bees nothing but high fructose corn syrup over the winter. I know when I eat nothing but high fructose corn syrup I don't feel so hot.

  • Redbull... (Score:5, Funny)

    by AmigaHeretic ( 991368 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:34AM (#29039003) Journal
    Maybe they need an extra set of wings?
    • Brawndo (Score:5, Funny)

      by Propaganda13 ( 312548 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:56AM (#29039351)

      But Brawndo's got what plants crave. It's got electrolytes. I'm sure bees crave it too.

    • Bee Pollen (Score:4, Insightful)

      by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:09PM (#29039609)

      uh... isn't bee Pollen one of those things they put in the energy pills they sell at the gas-n-go mini marts? Maybe they should add some pollen to that sugar water.

      also isn't giving Bee's sugar going to prevent them from bothering with the flowers they are supposed to be pollinating? after all they visit flowers for sugar not pollen. The pollen is just symbiotic side-efffect.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Fluffeh ( 1273756 )

        isn't bee Pollen one of those things

        No, it's not one of those things. Bees don't make pollen. Plants do.

        The stuff they sell at pharmacies is royal jelly [wikipedia.org] which is in fact made by bees, secreted from a gland in worker bees heads. While commonly a myth that only the queen gets to eat this stuff, it's generally used to feed just about all the larvae, but if a queen is needed, they gorge the larvae on the stuff for the first four days which gives the bee enough of an energy kick to kick-start the development of ovaries which are (obviously) nee

  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:36AM (#29039027)

    This is an ex-bee!

  • Re: Redbull (Score:3, Funny)

    by Mendoksou ( 1480261 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:37AM (#29039043)
    I've always kind of wanted to see bees sucking on some Bawls, does that make me abnormal?
  • by d474 ( 695126 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:38AM (#29039051)

    That, and you'll end up with an army of ants swarming the sugary concoction. Pretty much all insects will find it tasty.

    This is obviously a plot by the Society of Birds to make more food for their feathered friends.

    • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:02PM (#29039465) Homepage

      That, and you'll end up with an army of ants swarming the sugary concoction. Pretty much all insects will find it tasty.

      A simple trick from hummingbird feeders is to have a cup of water the ants would have to swim through to get to the nectar, likea so [birdersworld.com]. Ants can't swim, so they can't get to it. Okay, some species can form ant-bridges to cross water. Hopefully those kind aren't around where you're keeping your bees. :)

      This is obviously a plot by the Society of Birds to make more food for their feathered friends.

      Maybe! Certainly hummingbirds will like the sugar water as much as bees do.

      Here's another trick that would probably work if you are only interested in attracting bees to your feeder: Paint it yellow. Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, not so much to yellow. That's why hummingbird feeders are red. Some though have yellow "flowers", and I've learned that you should avoid those if you don't want bees and wasps on your feeder because they like yellow. Flip that around, and you have a feeder that should attract bees (and wasps) but not hummingbirds.

    • I hate bees (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:16PM (#29039723)

      I will start feeling benevolent towards these insects once laws are enacted that disallow the posession of both wings and a stinger.

      It should be illegal to have both. FOR GOD'S SAKE PICK ONE!!!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by 32771 ( 906153 )

        You are one pathetic city dweller.

        I demand second amendment rights for bees!

        Also, don't forget that bees are on a suicide mission if they sting you. It really is your fault if you piss them off that much, and they are not some crazy religious humans. Wasps and hornets on the other hand are in a far more western position.

    • by gilgongo ( 57446 )

      That, and you'll end up with an army of ants swarming the sugary concoction.

      Actually, that's a good thing. Every year, I put out a big bowl of sugar syrup for the ants. Because it's relatively easy for them to get at, they don't then venture into my house and harass my Twinkies.

  • by riboch ( 1551783 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:39AM (#29039067)

    Next thing you know we will be complaining about a diabetic and obese bee population.

  • Ever go on a picnic and see bees enter your soda can? Or see a trashcan buzzing with bees because people throw away their sweet, sugary beverages?

    Santa is powered by cookies and milk. Bees are powered by honey... that's why they make it. Why not leave some "honey" out for them as a mid-flight snack?

    My only question would be how this affects their ability to collect pollen and make honey back at the hive. If it allows them to pollinate more flowers, then hell, I'm all for it.

    • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:44AM (#29039157)

      Yellow jackets are protein eaters (other bugs, roadkill). They don't make honey. In the late summer / early fall they lose their normal food sources and they start going after carbohydrates -- sugary soda and pretty much anything on the picnic table.

      They're also super aggressive at that time of year and can sting repeatedly. Which is why I hang a yellow jacket trap to kill as many as possible. 10 in the last day!

      • IIRC it was like this that their larvae eat proteins and secret some sugary juice that the adult yellow jackets live off. When there are no more larvae in late summer, the adult YJs are starving and thus get a wee bit aggressive. I mean, who wouldn't?

      • by flaming error ( 1041742 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:15PM (#29039699) Journal
        .. but if you prefer something more aggressive than passive, you can't beat tennis racket bug zappers [amazon.com]. Keeps the kids off the xbox for hours.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by i.r.id10t ( 595143 )

          22 rifle loaded with the "snake shot" or "rat shot" pellets. Whole bunch of little tiny shot, good for 10 yards or so at most before the pattern opens too much.

        • You put the bug zappers around the Xbox?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheLink ( 130905 )
          You might end up breeding faster and more agile yellow jackets.

          We use those zappers a lot to kill mosquitoes in my house.

          The trouble is, after some years of that, the current generation of mosquitoes now seem to be smaller and faster. They even bite faster - they can land, draw blood and fly away to escape in a short time.

          Worse is, when I'm drifting off to sleep with the zapper nearby, the mosquitoes seem to stay away when I'm alert and waiting, but just when I am about to doze off - one or two start to att
          • by swb ( 14022 )

            The trap I use is passive, the yellow jackets climb in but they can't climb out (dunno how this part works, it looks like they should be able to climb right back out -- but they don't). They then die of dehydration in the trap.

            The lure of the trap is a synthetic pheromone that only attracts yellow jackets. You don't get bald-faced (paper) wasps or any type of a honey making bee.

            I put the trap up in the spring and bait it with the idea that I might catch a queen and preempt and nuke an entire colony; even

            • The queen doesn't ever leave the nest. It's continuously breeding new bastards. Some of the offspring will become future queens, and those are the ones that migrate. But the chances that you'll stop one of the few that will succeed at forming a colony are slim.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Alaska Jack ( 679307 )

            I don't know about your situation, but I can tell you here in Alaska there are without question two different types of mosquitos. The ones that come out first in the spring are big, slow and dumb. As the summer wears on these are replaced by mosquitos that are clearly smaller, faster and much more aggressive and cagey.

            It's not a one-time thing, but rather happens like this every year.

                - AJ

      • They're also super aggressive at that time of year and can sting repeatedly.

        A yellowjacket will sting if provoked, for example if they are caught in your clothes or if you try to hit them. What usually makes me nervous is if someone starts to frantically wavie their arms in the air to chase them away. Staying calm never got me a sting. I did get stung when I badly disturbed a nest, but that is a different story.

      • by Wodin ( 33658 )

        Not necessarily. In South Africa we don't have yellow jackets and the bees do sometimes congregate around soft drink cans. People sometimes get stung in the mouth if they aren't careful and a bee decides to take a drink while they're not looking.

    • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:48AM (#29039199) Homepage

      My only question would be how this affects their ability to collect pollen and make honey back at the hive. If it allows them to pollinate more flowers, then hell, I'm all for it.

      Except if the source of that sweet, sweet sugar is more convenient to the hive than the flowers (and it would have to be, if it is intended to help the bees get to the flowers) then why go to the flowers?

      It's like saying, I'm hungry but the McDonalds is too far away. So I'll stop at the Burger Kind on the way. Only after stopping at Burger King, there's no need to go to McDonalds.

      I'm guessing if such assistance to the bees becomes widespread, fewer flowers will be pollinated.

      • I'm guessing, that with the bee population as it is, if we don't help them a little bit, soon there will be no bees left to pollinate the flowers.
      • by oni ( 41625 )

        if the source of that sweet, sweet sugar is more convenient to the hive than the flowers (and it would have to be, if it is intended to help the bees get to the flowers) then why go to the flowers?

        Bees collect pollen and stick it to their legs to carry back to the hive. Can they carry sugar water on their legs? No? Then they'll still have to go to the flowers.

        • Bees don't use the pollen. Plants have evolved to use bees as a breeding channel, by producing pollen that easily sticks to bees' legs. What bees are after is flower nectar, kind of like honey.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by phayes ( 202222 )

            Either crawl out of your mother's basement or learn to use the internet/wikipedia in order to avoid embarrasing yourself in public.

            There are just so many ways that you are wrong.

            Bees cannot live on nectar alone & need a source of protein. The initial food of all larval bees (other than vulture bees) is a mixture of pollen & honey without which the larvae would die. This is the reason they have evolved special hairs on their legs in order to better collect & retain pollen.

  • Nice picture (Score:4, Insightful)

    by us7892 ( 655683 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:41AM (#29039109) Homepage
    Such a beautiful picture of a bee and a dandilion...and on slashdot. Awwww.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Such a beautiful picture of a bee and a dandilion...and on slashdot. Awwww.

      Nice picture hell, get a load of the bollox on that bee!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      Then I noticed the filename and imemdiately thought, "That's no bee, it's Thumbelina!!"

      There's a wild beehive somewhere on my place (never have found it, tho it might be high up in one of the old hollow trees) and being we're in the desert, a lot of the year they clearly do not get enough to eat (lots of them being small or weak). But they've completely ignored the sugar water I've put out for them. [I used to work for a beekeeper, so I knew to do this.]

  • Sounds like hummingbird drink to me, hardly groundbreaking....
  • nothing new (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:46AM (#29039175)

    my Unlce used to keep bees, before he became allergic to them. leaving sugar water was always SOP. especially during those times of years when flowering was low.

    i really dislike this bee paranoia. first honey bees are NOT native to North America, although the article is from the UK. in fact Naive Americans called them the "white man's fly". Bees are not the sole pollinators of everything either. the major crops grown in my home state don't rely on pollinators. corn and wheat are not pollinated by bees, nor are numerous other species. many crops are grown and produced from cloning/cutting and still many plants use other insects as pollinators. look at the many species of figs that often are associated with just one species of wasp.

  • by BigHungryJoe ( 737554 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:47AM (#29039185) Homepage

    Is Britain having the same problem the US is with CCD?

      I talked to a guy that sells honey at the local farmer's market, and this past year was the first time in 15 years that he actually had to purchase more bees because he'd lost over 90% of his hives to CCD.

    Anyhow, the symptoms described in the article sort of sounded like CCD, although I've never seen it, just had it described to me.


    • by mc1138 ( 718275 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:57AM (#29039377) Homepage
      They are, while not quite as conclusive, there has been a decline in populations, and resources are being applied to monitor the situation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder#UK_Bee_database [wikipedia.org]
    • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:05PM (#29040487)
      A cure for "Colony Collapse Disorder" has recently been announced. It turns out (after an exhaustive study, in more ways that one), that there were a combination of microorganisms causing the problem. And it takes a mix of antibiotics to cure it, but it does work. The recovery has been pretty dramatic.
    • According to this book I'm reading, ("A world without bees" by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum") they do have CCD in Britain, but the government is in denial about it. CCD is a controversial diagnosis... it could be caused by Varroa mites, Varroa mite treatment, Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus, neonicotinoid pesticides (which some claim makes bees go senile long before lethal dose), or a combination. Even global warming may play a role.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gplus ( 985592 )
      Tell him to stop stealing honey from the poor bees. They say that honey contains lots of stuff that's good for people's health. Well it's perfect for bee's health! They have depended on it for millions of years. I don't understand how beekeepers can think they can replace it with a sterile sugar/water mixture, without seriously compromising the health and constitution of the hive.

      In short: The beekeepers are, at the very least, part of the CCD problem. Not just victims.
  • Weird. (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) * <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:50AM (#29039229) Homepage Journal

    Many people keep seeing bees on the ground and assume they are dead, but chances are they are having a rest

    I don't see them on the ground but they seem to collect in my lawn mower's grass catcher.

  • Bumblebees nest in the ground; seeing them "on the ground" means nothing other than all is normal.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      The don't nest on sidewalks.

    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      Yes, bumblebees often crawl around on the ground, and nest below the surface. But honeybees don't. And it's not really typical for honeybees to rest on the ground for long periods.

      They are are pretty hard to mistake for one another, if you've even a vague idea of what each looks like. And only honeybees have a big economic impact. (You like to eat? Then you should like bees!)

      • Re:Ignorance? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by scribblej ( 195445 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:42PM (#29041075)

        Yes, they're hard to mistake for each other, and if you read the article, honeybees only get a tiny mention. They're one of three species that are in the article. The other two are bumblebees. The only expert quoted is a bumblebee expert. RTFA.

        And as I stated, bumblebees live IN THE GROUND. So seeing them on the ground is normal.

  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:53AM (#29039303) Journal

    ...the great UK honey bee diabetes epidemic of 2010.

    I really hate being right in advance all the time.

  • Sounds like they should be giving the bees Brawndo, The Thirst Mutilator. If it works as well for the bees as it does for crop irrigation, then they'll be swimming in honey in no time.

  • by uxbn_kuribo ( 1146975 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:02PM (#29039455)
    Until we start wondering why our honey is giving us a crazed, caffeine-infused high. Remember, honey is basically bee vomit. Also, if Red Bull gives you wings, what does it give bees?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward


  • by Anonymous Coward

    Anyone who knows anything about bees, already knows about sugar water... it's a common Bee Keeping practice... at least in the States it is.

  • by Guppy ( 12314 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:06PM (#29039543)

    Just like with Hummingbird feeders, if you do this I recommend dis-infecting your container periodically by boiling (or use disposable containers).

    Otherwise, you eventually have microbial contamination problems which could be dangerous to the bees you're trying to help. Growth of yeasts, bacteria, and other organisms should not be assumed to be necessarily visible to the naked eye, either.

  • Open sugar water (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Manfre ( 631065 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:07PM (#29039561) Homepage Journal

    There will be a lot more insects finding their way to the sugar water. Most likely ants will find the sugar and swarm on it first.

    I keep bees and have to feed them sugar water when weather doesn't cooperate with their collection of pollen and nectar. The only thing that keeps ants away from the sugar water I feed to a hive are the hundreds of guard bees. They bite at the ants and chase them away.

    • Re:Open sugar water (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:35PM (#29040015) Homepage Journal

      Wouldn't putting the sugar water in a hanging basket help?

      I use a painting of motor oil to keep ants out of my dog food bins, just a swath around the bottom of the bin. Soap also works but motor oil lasts a lot longer.

      Any idea why starving bees would reject sugar water? Here in the desert, during the dry season there's often NOTHING for them to collect. My local wild beehive (nice gentle bees so I'd like to keep them healthy!) follows me around for water, and they arrive in clouds when I start spraying down stuff, but when I put out sugar water they ignore it, even tho they are often clearly starving. (They look poor and weak.)

      I used to work for a beekeeper, tho mainly in the honey house. If most folks could see honey at that stage, they'd never eat it. :)

      • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:31PM (#29040897)
        Everybody here is missing the point. Let me tell you something about bees.

        Bees have "scouts" that go out looking for nectar. When they encounter a good patch of flowers, they fly back to the hive, and they do a "dance" that communicates to the other bees the direction AND the distance to this patch of nectar. Other worker bees then "fuel up" with just enough honey to fly the indicated distance. (I know that it seems unlikely that bees are capable of such organization, but this much has been known for decades.)

        On rare occasions, the "directions" can be wrong, or some other problem happens, and a bee does not find the correct patch of flowers. In such cases, the bee can become "exhausted" (it has used up its store of honey). An exhausted bee cannot fly! As mentioned by OP, in fact, people often mistake them for dead. So ANYTHING hanging is not going to do these bees any good.

        After having read about this as a child, I tried it on a bee that I found outside and originally took for dead. But then it did move a little. I gave it a sugar+water solution to drink, and a couple of minutes later it flew off. I have repeated this experiment many times, and it has not failed me yet. Except when the bee was actually dead.
      • My parents grew up in the country, and it was common to have beehives for honey. As I grew up, we kept the country life for weekends and vacation, and did country-like things. Too much sometimes, for my taste. One of my favorites was getting the honey. My brother and I used to take bites off the wax panels, chew the honey and spit the wax out. I would get stomachaches that way, but it was worth it.

        • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

          Fresh honey right out of the comb does have a slightly different taste, presumably some factor in the wax. When it's good, it's good. :D

          (And when it's buckwheat honey, it's like rank molasses no matter what!)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TheHawke ( 237817 )

      Don't let it stand out in the sun too long or it'll ferment. Last thing you need is a bunch of drunk bees and a crashed hive.

  • I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords with a refreshing sugary drink!
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:26PM (#29039861) Homepage Journal
    About Diabeeeedes?
  • Hello,

        I've been reading that one of the reasons US bees may be having trouble is a poor diet. Bees need other nutrients in their diet than pure sugar. They get it from pollen and genuine plant nectar. Sugar water doesn't contain these.

        A lot of US bees, instead of having a variety of foods available as would be in a wild environment, have just one type of flower to feed upon, like apples, and maybe some corn-syrup-water. Inadequate nutrition results, and CCD is an effect (so the theory goes).

        How about we give bees sugar + complete bee nutrient solution?


    • In fact, lets go through the whole nutrition pyramid, line em up with a serving of fish and dairy products, some more veggies too.

  • It has ELECTROLYTES and makes you FLY REALLY FAST! You'll also WIN at things you're not even supposed to WIN at like BUZZING! BRAWNDO will make you WIN AT BUZZING!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      BRAWNDO!! It's got what BEES CRAVE! It's like DRIVING a MONSTER TRUCK into a field of pollen! BRAWNDO!!
  • One of the best theories I've heard about declining bee populations is that humans have been selecting our crops for traits that we desire such as larger fruit, and may have inadvertently selected out traits that bees desire such as flower nectar. In this scenario pollinating our crops becomes a bigger job with ever smaller return on the work for the bees. I think a piece of information that might support this theory is to examine how wild bees near undeveloped areas have been affected. Presumably an undeve

  • I'd be curious what result giving bees caffeinated beverages would have on hive construction. Judging from what the stimulant does to spiders, it'd definitely be an interesting experiment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Caffeinated_spiderwebs.jpg [wikipedia.org]

    I'd also wonder if it'd give new meaning to the phrase "making a bee line" for something.

  • ...BAWLS! That stuff is excellent! That'll jack them right up :)

  • Yeah, because that's what I want to do....give bees a good reason to hang out in my backyard.

  • This what you get with 7 billion people on the planet. Over-worked worker bees. We all drink Gatorade, now time to give some to bees. No slacking off on this crowded rock!

  • I've often found a bee on the ground looking like it's about to die and fed it sugar water. After drinking a bit of it it's amazing how they seem to recover.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll