Last Spring, Fiona Presly was gardening outside her home in Scotland when she noticed a queen bumblebee at her feet. She quickly sensed that something wasn’t right as the bee seemed shaky and disoriented.
Afraid she might get stepped on, Fiona bent down and noticed the queen bee had no wings, she tells The Dodo.
Not sure how else to help, Presly offered the bee some sugar water and set her on some flowers, hoping she’d be able to eventually manage on her own. When she checked the spot a few hours later, however, she found the bee hadn’t budged. To make matters worse, a heavy storm was brewing — so Presly went one step further:
“I took her inside that night, kept her warm and fed her more,” she said. “I thought I would put her out the next day, but the weather was bad then too. So I kept her inside.” [source]
Now in recovery, Presly reached out to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust for help. They told her it was likely she had a virus known to cause wing development issues. Unable to fly, the chances of survival were slim.
Saddened, Presly decided that she would try to help the bee, making her a tiny private garden to live out her final days.
Fiona aptly named her new friend ‘Bee’ and built her a private little garden to pollinate. She enclosed the garden in netting so her winged counterparts couldn’t swoop in and deplete the garden.
Fiona continued to check on her friend daily, giving her sugar water whenever she seemed weak. Bee seemed to be adjusting to her new home and getting more and more comfortable around her new ‘friend’. [source]
As the days continued, Fiona noticed Bee would emerge from the foliage every time she dropped by the enclosure. “She’d walk toward me and crawl on my hand,” Presly said.
“She seemed so happy to see me. It made me stop and think — there’s something going on here.” [source]
According to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, queens typically spend spring and summer building a nest, mating, and starting a colony — eventually dying at the approach of Autumn.
Under Fiona’s care, Bee had outlived them all, but five months after being rescued Bee fell asleep one last time, never again to wake.
“I was sad when she died, but I knew it was going to happen. She was already older than she should have been,” Presley said. “It had been very special to stay with a wee creature, like Bee. The fact that she lived more than just a few weeks amazed me. That was rewarding in itself.”
Afterward, Presly buried Bee’s body in her garden — joined by a favorite flower. [source]