I found this bedraggled bee sitting on the plastic of my greenhouse. I don’t know what happened, but she was finished. She obviously was at the end of a run (pollen baskets full) without the strength to carry on.
Luckily, I had just made bee syrup for my bees, and (carrying this nearly-dead bee; I’d already picked her up), I went home, dipped my finger in the pot of syrup, and started walking back.
The neatest part was that a second after getting the syrup on my hand, I felt all her feet suddenly grip my skin, grabbing on. Like a hibernating robot- ACTIVATE feet! Before, she would have dropped off if I tipped my hand.
She turned, her tongue came out, and she started sucking greedily. I held her for some minutes, but after deciding I had to care for some other animals, I had to wipe her and a drop of syrup off my finger onto a perch for her to finish on her own.
I used to save bumblebees that got trapped in the house like this, with a drop of honey on a butter knife. Set them outside together and the bee will come back to life.
My observation is that bees are not truly dead unless their tongues are stuck out, however dead they otherwise appear. I examine bees apparently drowned or froze, curled up like death, and if their tongue is not protruding, I set them in the sun, or in the sun in a flower for a snack. They are almost always gone a little later, or I even see them reviving, revving up their wings. If their tongues are out, it’s too late. All over.