Garden, Home and Garden

How To Revive Tired Bees With Sugar Water The Right Way

bee sugar solution

Today I’m going to show you how to revive tired bees.  You see, I’m a big fan of the bees here at Moral Fibres, but our poor bees are in decline. Threatened because of neonicotinoid pesticide usage, habitat loss, and pollution, our fuzzy friends need all the help they can get.

It’s all well and good when the bees are buzzing around, doing their thing.  But have you ever seen a tired, struggling, or apparently dying or dead bee in your home or garden?  When I’ve seen bees like this I’ve always assumed that they were dying or dead.  Ever the optimist! However, the other day my other half told me they were not dying, just tired.  And that you can actually revive these bees quickly and easily using only sugar and water.

Let me first show you how to work out if your grounded bee actually does need assistance. And, once you’ve established that your bee is in trouble, how to then revive these tired bees. I’ll also show you some dos and don’ts for helping bees because our goal is to help, not harm the bees. We can inadvertently harm bees in our quest to help, so it’s important to be informed.

Firstly, Does The Bee Need Reviving?

First off, you need to decide whether the bee is actually in trouble or if it is just resting. In 2019 researchers at the Queen Mary University of London found that bumblebee queens actually spend a large proportion of their time resting on the ground.

In fact, the researchers found that bees rest for around 30 minutes on average, and occasionally up to 45 minutes. It appears that rest is a big part of the bumblebee life-cycle, particularly in early Spring. This means that if you do find a bee on the ground for an extended period of time, then in most cases there is nothing wrong with the bee, it just needs a little rest. I don’t know about you, but I can definitely relate to the bees!

Bumblebee queens normally rest in long grass and leaf litter, where they can hide from predators. However, due to our love of shortly mowed lawns and tidy gardens, it does get harder for bees to find such sheltered hiding spots.

Therefore, If you find a bumblebee queen resting on the road or on the pavement or in another busy area, then the best thing you can do for the bee is not to revive it or feed it anything but to simply move it. When it is safe to do so, you can gently move it into some grass or leaves, or onto a nearby bee-friendly flower. Failing that, a more sheltered location out of harm’s way would be sufficient.

How To Revive A Tired Bee

how to revive a dead or dying bee

If after 45 minutes, the bee is still on the ground then it may be genuinely exhausted. The best thing to do at this point is, if you can, pop the bee on a bee-friendly flower to give it time to build strength safely.

If you can’t find a flower, it is only at this point that you should intervene by offering an energy boost to the tired bee.

Thankfully it is pretty easy to revive tired and exhausted bees. A simple solution of sugar and water can work wonders in giving them the energy they need to fly away.

To create this energy drink to revive tired bees, the RSPB suggests mixing two tablespoons of white granulated sugar with one tablespoon of water.  Then place the sugar/water mix on a plate or spoon.  Do not add any more water otherwise the bee could drown. 

Next place the bee on the plate or spoon, where it will have a little drink. Hopefully, this will help it to gather the energy it needs to fly back to its hive.

Once done drinking, the bee will either fly off or gather energy to fly away. If it doesn’t fly away immediately, pop the bee onto a bee-friendly flower, or in some grass, or leaves until it is ready to fly. If you can’t find any foliage, put it in a sheltered spot until it is ready.

The only other occasion when you should offer a bee this energy drink is if it has been caught in bad weather, and again, is struggling to fly.

Some Dos & Don’ts For Feeding Bees

tips for reviving tired bees

There are some dos and don’ts for reviving tired bees that you should always follow.

Never Offer Honey

Firstly, don’t be tempted to offer tired bees honey.  In most cases, honey isn’t suitable for bees. This is because a lot of honey is imported and may not always be right for native British bees. Honey from other hives can also spread fatal diseases, such as Foulbrood, amongst bee populations, so always stick to sugar.

Only Offer White Granulated Sugar To Tired Bees

Secondly, only ever offer white granulated sugar when you need to revive a bee. Never offer any other type of sugar. That includes brown sugar and demerara sugar as these are too hard for the bee to digest. Nor should you offer any artificial or diet sweeteners as these could also be harmful to bees. If you don’t have any white granulated sugar, then the best and safest option is to offer nothing at all.

Don’t Leave Sugar Water In Your Garden

And thirdly, and very importantly, do not leave any sugar-water solution sitting out in your garden for bees to drink from at their leisure.  Sugar water fills bees up, can prevent the bees from gathering precious pollen, and therefore could be detrimental to their health. It’s also bad for plants, as this would prevent bees from pollinating our plants.

Instead, use this sugar-water technique only in an emergency when a tired bee is clearly in need of reviving.  Think of it as bee CPR! You wouldn’t use CPR on someone who was just having a nap – so don’t offer sugar water if a bee has just been resting for a short period of time.

Thankfully I haven’t found any tired bees since learning this useful tip to try it out.  However, knowing some very basic “thirst aid” (!) for bees that are clearly in trouble can go a long way in helping out the bees to rebuild their depleted population sizes.

Why Are Bees Important?

Bees are crucial to help maintain the health of our environment, and our food supply. The Food And Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations says thatclose to 75% of the world’s crops producing fruits and seeds for human consumption depend, at least in part, on pollinators for sustained production, yield, and quality“. This means without bees, we would struggle to feed ourselves.

Being able to revive tired bees is one key aspect. Another bee-friendly step that you can take is to plant a bee-friendly garden. Or, if you don’t have a garden, here’s how you can help the bees in other ways.

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Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

How To Dry Clothes Indoors Sustainably

Reduce your reliance on your tumble dryer with these tips on how to dry clothes indoors sustainably. From the equipment you need, to how to avoid bad smells, and how to avoid crispy towels.

Over the years I’ve shared a lot of tips on how to do laundry sustainably. From the best eco-friendly laundry detergents to how to remove stains naturally. And recently I realised I haven’t shared my top tips on how to dry clothes indoors.

With energy bills spiraling higher and higher due to the removal of the energy price cap, it’s never been more important to curb our uses of energy-intensive appliances. The most energy-intensive appliances are ones that generate heat or need to heat up water. These include things like washing machines, dishwashers, kettles, and hairdryers. And to add to this list – tumble dryers.

While I prefer to dry my clothes outdoors, the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Instead of turning to your tumble dryer on wet days, then if you are looking to reduce your reliance on tumble driers, do try my top tips on how to dry your clothes indoors for the best results.

How To Dry Clothes Indoors Sustainably

Image of a stylish laundry room with clothes horse and laundry basket and a blue text box that says how to dry clothes indoors sustainably for the best results

From the correct washing technique to the equipment you need, to how to avoid bad smells, and how to avoid crispy towels, here are my top laundry drying techniques.

Start With How You Wash Your Clothes

As a family of four, our laundry basket is often overflowing. It can be incredibly tempting to ram as many clothes into our machine as it can possibly hold. However, I know that this is counterintuitive to having clean laundry and also the drying process.

This is because there is not enough space for your laundry to agitate in the machine. There will also be less water available for the detergent to dissolve in, as the clothes will soak up too much water. This means your clothes don’t come out as clean as you would like, meaning you may have to wash them again.

And what’s more, when your machine is fully packed the spin cycle is not as effective. Your clothes come out damper than they should, taking longer to dry. Particularly when it comes to drying clothes indoors, you really don’t want to start with too wet clothes.

So how much should you fill your washing machine with clothes? Aim to fill three-quarters of the drum. Anything more than that is considered overloading.

Use A Clothes Horse To Dry Clothes Indoors

Once you’ve washed your clothes, you need to consider how you dry them. When drying clothes indoors, it’s tempting to squeeze as many wet items of clothing onto your radiators, to speed up the drying process. However, drying clothes on your radiator is not energy efficient. Hanging wet clothes on your radiator makes your boiler work harder to get your room to your desired temperature. It, therefore, takes longer and uses more energy to heat your home, meaning it costs you more money.

I would always recommend using a clothes horse to dry your clothes indoors. I have a tower clothes horse (this particular one), which takes up a small footprint – about 1 m² – but can hold up to two loads of laundry. You can even dry delicates flat, or adjust the racks for optimally drying trousers or towels.

I was given this one as part of an advertising campaign I took part in some years ago (so was under no obligation to post it here). But it goes without saying that you don’t need to buy a fancy-dan clothes horse. If you already have one then it’s always more sustainable to use what you already have.

Ceiling or Wall Mounted Clothes Airers

Standard clothes horses aren’t your only option. If you lack floor space but have the ceiling height, then one option to try would be a ceiling-mounted clothes airer. Growing up, I knew these as a pulley, but you might know them as a kitchen maid.

I had a pulley in a student flat I once lived in, and loved it. They’re really effective, as hot air rises, so your clothes dry quickly in the warmest part of the room. Ours was situated in our kitchen, so I found it best to do my laundry at night after everyone had their dinner, and then remove my dry clothes the next day. This meant that my clothes didn’t take on any food smells.

Lacking ceiling height? You can also buy wall-mounted drying racks if you lack the ceiling height but have wall space.

Electric Clothes Horses

Meanwhile, some people swear by using an electric clothes horse to dry their clothes indoors. From what I have read, they are very energy efficient, and much cheaper to run than a tumble dryer. I haven’t tried one, so can’t report on their effectiveness. However, I have heard of electric clothes horses that come with tents that you pop over them to help speed up the drying process. I will report back if I ever take the plunge!

Tips for Using a Clothes Horse

stylish laundry room

Whatever type of clothes horse you use, there are key considerations to make to help your laundry dry efficiently, and to keep you and your home healthy.

Open A Window

When drying your clothes indoors, the key thing to remember is ventilation. Damp laundry can contain up to three litres of water, which needs to evaporate. Inadequate ventilation can cause condensation on your walls and windows when you dry your laundry. If this condensation isn’t vented out, then it can cause damp and mould growth in your home. This damp and mould can negatively affect your health, so it is best to be avoided.

An easy way to avoid condensation is to close the door and open up a window in the room in which you are drying your laundry. Allowing fresh air to circulate whilst your laundry dries really helps to reduce moisture levels, meaning the risk of dampness and mould in your home is significantly reduced.

To add to this, I would avoid drying your laundry in your bedroom and the living room if possible. If you can, use your hallway, bathroom, or kitchen to limit potential allergic reactions to dampness, dust, and detergent.

If it’s too cold, wet, or windy to open your window for an extended period of time, then don’t worry. There are other workarounds. If you can dry laundry in your kitchen or bathroom, then running the extractor fan, if you have one, will also help. The extractor fan uses very little electricity so won’t drive up your bills, like a tumble drier would.

Use A Dehumidifer

We live in an old property, which wasn’t designed to cope with the levels of condensation that modern living generates. We, therefore, bought a dehumidifier*, which sucks excess moisture from the air. It doesn’t run all the time, just at times when we are struggling with excess condensation.

What I’ve found is that if you pop your clothes horse in a small room, you can run the dehumidifier and not only does it tackle condensation, but it helps clothes to dry faster too. It’s nowhere near as energy-intensive as the tumble dryer.

Hang Your Clothes Properly

It might sound obvious, but taking care to ensure that you hang your clothes neatly – pulling trousers, sleeves and socks straight – really speeds up the drying process. Adequately spacing your clothes helps too.

How to Avoid Crunchy Towels

Crunchy towels can be an issue when you dry your laundry indoors. If you want to keep your towels soft, then a short 10 to 15-minute cool blast in your tumble dryer when they are almost air dried will prevent any crunchiness, without having to run your tumble dryer for a long period of time.

Another top tip is to reduce the amount of laundry detergent you use when washing your towels. Too much detergent can make towels feel crunchy. Halving the amount of detergent you would normally use in your washing machine helps prevent this problem. As does making your own fabric conditioner, which helps remove any excess detergent from your towels.

How Do I Stop My Clothes Smelling Damp When Drying them Indoors?

Clothes start to smell damp when they take too long to dry. Adequately ventilating the room you are drying your clothes in, by opening a window, can help. Running a dehumidifier* can also help, by removing moisture from your clothes, without the high running costs associated with tumble driers.

My other top tip is to spin your clothes at the maximum spin cycle your washing machine allows. Some washing cycles don’t spin on the maximum spin cycle, so a final spin cycle on the maximum setting removes any excess moisture. This makes it quicker to dry your clothes, meaning they are less likely to smell musty.

Cut Down On The Amount of Laundry You Do

Finally, my very best advice to help you is to simply cut down on the amount of laundry you do. The majority of us do wash our clothes too frequently. Here’s a rough guide as to how often you should wash your clothes, and here are some handy hints to prolong the freshness of your clothes in between washes.

Final Thoughts

Ditching your tumble dryer and drying your clothes indoors on wet days can save you a heap of energy and money. However, it’s important to bear in mind some simple tips to help avoid negatively impacting your health. Maintaining ventilation is key – either by opening a window or by mechanical means. Meanwhile, reducing the amount of laundry you do and how you do it can also help minimise energy usage and potential dampness.