Honey bees need water, but often drown while trying to collect it. Do you end up with bees in your pool or dog water bowl? Well you can keep bees from drowning in your pool by providing a safe place for them to drink! The more attractive the alternative water source, the more success you will have. So whether you are a beekeeper looking to give your bees a nice water source or a homeowner with too many bees in your pool, read on for examples of great water sources for bees.
If given a choice, bees will always choose to drink “dirty” water. They appear to favor water from ponds, creaks or streams that has become murky with algae. I once kept bees on a hydroponics farm and they absolutely loved it. I believe it is because they use the nutrients found in such waters. So, grant them their wish and set up a bee pond. It doesn’t have to be a big, fancy pond. Anyone can create a simple water garden with half wine barrels. You just need a barrel, mosquito fish and some floating plants (like water lettuce or water hyacinth). Sometimes these types of barrel ponds do better with a small amount of water circulation, like one of these small solar fountains. Once a pond is established, it can be very low maintenance. My barrel ponds only need to be refilled every once in a while. You should also clean decaying organic matter from the bottom of the pond so the water is not robbed of all its oxygen.
No matter what type of water source you choose to provide, make sure the water current isn’t too strong. Bees like trickling water because there is less of a drowning risk. I often see them hovering or even landing on fountains that have a gentle trickling function. Or fountains that drain into a rock filled grate.
Bird Bath with Rocks
A simple way to give bees water is to just fill your bird bath with stones. If you already have a bird bath, you can make it attractive to bees by adding these additional landing areas. You may find that you need two bird baths! One for the bees and one for the birds, because bees can sometimes deter birds from using that same bath. The downside to bird baths is that they need to be refilled often.
Some beekeepers like to simple by using buckets. You can flat a sponge in a bucket for a simple landing pad or hang a rag halfway in so the bees can take water directly from the rag. Other float corks in the water. Any non-toxic floatation device will work! Make sure you refill your bucket and check it often for mosquito larvae.
What methods have you come up with for getting water to your bees safely? Leave a comment below.