I spent a little more time today trying to improve my macro photography of bees coming in and out of the hive. Here's one of my favourite pictures:
As the day warmed up there was an increase in activity - right up until 8:45pm when I saw the last bee enter the hive. Most of my monitoring throughout the day was done via a remote camera, but I think I saw at least two or three emerging for the first time and programming their bearings.
Part way through the day I discovered a very tiny worker on the floor below the hive. On closer inspection I could see she was missing a wing and a leg on her left side and in fact was a little deformed. She was hobbling over the stones on the ground. Once I realised she couldn't fly I used a small tub to pick up her up and try and get her back in the nestbox, but it was very tricky. I decided to provide her some food and drink and take a few photographs too.
In the picture above she is on the side of a coke-bottle top that contains sugar water. As you can see, she is miniscule and I felt so sorry for her, because unless she is in the nest she has no hope of surviving. (Though, to be honest, I don't know if her chances are any better in the nest).
I made a cardboard funnel and eventually got her back into the nestbox.
Sadly, a couple of hours later she was back on the entrance of the nest, so I moved her to an emtpy ice-cream tub with some sugar water, pollen and moss and left her alone for the afternoon.
I figured I would put her in the nestbox towards the evening so she is not inclined to come out again.
When I next checked on her, about 6.30pm, she had crept under the moss and I was concerned for her temperature, so I brought the box inside and observed. Eventually she showed signs of life so I tried again to get her into the nest. In the end I had to resort to using a spoon and almost gently flicking her into the nestbox entrance, as she would not go any other way. I had no other choice.
I just hope she stays in the nest tomorrow, but I'm fearful she won't. She's programmed to come out and try and find pollen, even though she is incapable of doing so. But, this is the reality of nature.