Thursday afternoon, I pruned one big rhododendron. Cleaning up the mess later, I noticed that a fallen flower had a bumblebee still working on it. "That's dedication!" I thought, and went for the camera.
|Busy bee, as I found him.|
|But he seemed to be oddly scrunched up.|
He kept his head down to the sap, antennae dancing. I figured he would leave when he was good and ready, and set the flower aside, where I wouldn't crush it doing the cleanup. Three hours later, I remembered, and went to see if he was gone. No.
He was still in the same position. I brought him inside, and we inspected him. I thought he just may have been chilled, but ...
|See the problem? His head is glued to the flower.|
I set him and his flower on a clean sheet of paper and we waited for him to warm up and detach himself. He tried, pulling and twisting. He got his head and front legs free, but his hind legs were firmly fastened. I teased them away from the flower stalk with a paintbrush, but over and over, just as one leg came free(ish), he panicked and twisted to grab the stalk, where he stuck again.
|Head and front legs free. Unhappy bee.|
Finally, I convinced him to grab the paintbrush instead. As soon as the last leg pulled away, I whipped the flower out of reach.
He was still all sticky; he kept dragging one leg under the other to clean it. As glue pulled off one foot, it stuck to the other. He walked around slowly, dragging the two back legs; he couldn't lift them off the paper. I hosed him down (well, sprayed him and the paper lightly with cool water) a couple of times. After about half an hour, he was able to walk almost normally, but he was exhausted.
|Very sad bee. There's still debris glued onto the back legs.|
What do you do for a depressed bumblebee? Give him something sweet! I brought him a dampened sugar cube, and he perked right up.
|Drilling for sugar. You can see the tongue at the tip of the maxillae (long, tubular jaws). The hind leg still sticks to the paper.|
An hour later, he was able to fly about, and anxious to be free. I noticed that he'd torn up some of the damp paper and it was attached to his feet. Wait a bit longer, little bee! Another bath, another combing ...
|Bee in glass, with paper slippers.|
Eventually, I bedded him down for the night with fresh, clean paper. In the morning, I set him outside to wake up in the sunshine. When I looked again, he was gone.
'nother question; the bees are busy on the rhododendrons from dawn to dusk. Why don't they stick to the flowers like this one did?