Bumblebee Ride

Avalus had a little run-in with a bumblebee and was so kind to take pictures.

I was walking from the bus stop to work and saw this bumblebee, just sitting on a vetch leaf. I got my cam out and began photographing. The bee was stumbling around and looked kinda lost.

© Avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

And then she leaped at the camera and started crawling on my hand, eagerly searching. (These pics were taken with my phone).

© Avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

She was not extending and waving with a middle leg, which is usually a sign for „please mind your distance, thank you or I’ll sting you“, so I carefully juggled her onto my left hand and took her to the nearest batch of flowers. These were of some crownvetch (Securigera varia) and regular bees were bustling around. My passenger-bee was at first not interested, only noticing the flowers as I moved her head directly in front of it.

© Avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

She then tried drinking nectar but she was too clumsy and just pierced through the flower with her tongue. Irritated, she crawled a bit over the flower, but always kept a leg on my finger.

© Avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

You can see the tip of her tongue, sticking out of the back of the flower.

Then she lost interest, crawled back, and just sat at my hand.

© Avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

My original plan then was to take her to my office and get her a drop or two of freshly made sugar water to nurse her to strength and then put her back in the field I found her in. But underway I found a thistle with many freshly opened flowers that were at ground level (It looked like the plant was crushed by a car in the past but went on to grow anyway, but the flowers were all within 2 cm of the ground). This looked like a suitable spot for my shaky passenger, so I offered her a place in a thistle flower which she took up immediately, thrusting her tongue deep in. I stayed for a few minutes and observed her, as she drank, she stopped the shaking so I think she got all right.

© Avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

So good luck, big bumblebee!

I like bumblebees, they are co-cute.


  1. Ice Swimmer says

    A heartwarming story.

    I’m guessing she found the warmth of the hands somewhat appealing. Also, it kind of makes sense that thistle flowers are easier to access and sturdier.

  2. says

    There’s few things as rewarding as saving bees. I don’t know what day this happened, but sometimes the little friends are just cold and need a bit of warmth from a friendly human.

  3. Gelaos says

    Reminded me of this. Not to say that wasps aren’t important and good in a way, but boy can they be irritating sometimes. While bumblebees are cute fluffy flying pandas :)

  4. avalus says

    I did carry wasps on my skin a few times, one time even a very starved hornet (who really went to town on that marmelade stain on my thumb…) but I had to work very hard to keep my calm then. Have been stung by them often enough. Never by a bee or bumblebee though.

    This year, I have seen next to no wasps and no hornets at all. And only very few bumblebees come to visit my balcony. Also nearly no mosquitos and only 4 residential orb weavers. A few years ago my tomatoes were spider heavens and the nets filled with flies.
    Death of the insects is scaryly noticable. :(

  5. wrpinpnw says

    Male, so no stinger: completely safe.

    Looks like a European species? There’s one in North America that can look like that, but it’s hard to find these days.

  6. wrpinpnw says

    Whoops, I checked this post a couple of times and then forgot about it…

    I study bees, so the honest answer is something like “I’ve seen a lot of male bumble bees, and that’s what they look like” — the shape of the body, and particularly the head and antennae, are subtly different. Most female bumble bees also have a bit of sculpture on their hind legs for carrying pollen, and he doesn’t — but that’s not 100% diagnostic, since there are parasitic species whose females also don’t carry pollen.

    There are a few individually reliable characters, though, and one of them is juuuust visible in one of the photos: male bees have more antennal segments than females (either 11 or 13, vs. 10 or 12, depending on where you start counting.) So he’s definitely male.

    There are a number of more prominent features that can help tell males from females, but they all depend on knowing which species it is, and I don’t. There are several species in (mostly Northern) Europe that all look approximately like this, and I don’t know European species well enough to tell them apart.

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