The southern side of the roof of the hive was still in the shade and wet with the dew from the cool night time temperatures. There were 6 bees on their backs, arms folded, lifeless.
Or so I thought.
Expecting to see a bit of die-off in the hive as Winter approaches, I matter-of-factly picked each one up by the legs and placed them in a shell - the nearest thing to a vessel I could find close by. I have been inspired by my recent discovery of this blog and thought the girls and I could examine the bodies under a magnifying glass and microscope. Two of them had heavy sacs of pollen on their back legs and the long glossa (or tongue) was clearly visible.
It seemed the perfect opportunity to get to know our friends a little better.
But the moment I put their shell down on the sunny deck, their abdomens began to pulsate and their legs began to move - it was clear I had got myself involved in an unintentional bee rescue.
A mad dash into the house for a touch of honey and my camera, a drop of honey in the shell and the recovery was well underway. They drank the honey, spent a lot of time cleaning themselves, then cleaned each other a bit and slowly flew off back to the hive.
Watching the bees was a highlight of my day although a bit of a mixed blessing. By the looks of them the bees probably don't have much life left in them and my rescue may have just prolonged their suffering.
Argh. I hope not.