It's been a busy few days with more bees coming into care. There on the grass was a stranded bumble - still - silent.
It looked liked it was a bufftail or vestal cuckoo and on closer inspection it had both wings - but the right one was damaged - sort of "folded".
Of course, it couldn't fly. Actually, I say of course, but this is not necessarily a given. There are reports that bumbles can fly with as much as 50% of the wings missing. But that's "edge damage" as opposed to "structural damage" which what we have here. Little bee can't, for example, join the front and rear wings together with her special "hooks", owing the bend. And that's another thing, we're not 100% sure she's a girl or a boy.
The ice cream tub was summoned and duly mossed and honey-watered. And for a while it was looking good, even though when she tried to take off she managed only a slightly sustained hop. Not being entirely sure of her constitution and origin we decided on an overnight quaratine before contemplating addition to the main indoor nest, occupied by Holly.
We were glad about this decision. The next day came and little bee was less well. Slow, lethargic and by mid morning unmoving, keeled over, with all the memories of the untimely death of BLB. We took her indoors to wait the long 24 hours that we felt we needed to be sure.
Thank goodness we did - the next day some signs of life. A little twitching; antennae probing; sufficient energy to drag herself away from the heat of the laptop, though not to consume any drink. In the end BCW accidentally spilled some honey water on the kitchen towel and finally little bee quenched her thirst. With new energy, she heaved herself onto the moss and bedded down for the night, while we moved the tub over Holly's infrared lamp. This maintained a temperature somewhere safe around 24 degrees.
After another night, she still had life signs, though barely impercetible. Perhaps if she was humanoid she'd be four score and twenty; creaking at the joints; wheezing and failing. Still, she dragged herself around the tub a little. She's a brave fighter. And we, the helpless spectators.
The morning was further punctuated by the finding of another invalid by BCW. Racing across the grass, with only one wing to show for it. BCW came to the rescue and before you could buzz, this biggerLittleBumble was in a care ward of its own too. Same protocol: isolation and quarantine to begin with, for the safey of all concerned. Now, biggerLittleBumble is more energetic, but again is doomed never to fly. All that energy has to be worked off somehow - racing round the box is one way; perhaps he's a boy. Boys do that kind of thing. Well, BLB did for sure, and he was a boy.
So, in total we have taken 4 bees into care. BLB passed away soon after and it seems that littleBee might do so soon. But we still have Holly (who is doing amazingly well, almost miraculously so) and biggerLittleBumble. The big question is, can they live together harmoniously?