Posted December 12, 2017
by Hilary

How to keep bees out of your pool

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.

Pond Water

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.

how to keep bees out of your pool

how to keep bees out of your pool

Trickling Fountain

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.

how to keep bees out of your pool 2015-09-10 12.10.52-1

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.

how to keep bees out of your pool

Bucket Systems

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.



  1. Candy

    Do you sell beeswax?

    • Hilary


  2. Jony

    Excellent advice. Thank you!

  3. lisa

    Hello! Firstly, I know this post is old but it’s still relevant and helpful to locals and tourists alike, plus your writing style is entertaining to read, so thank you so much! Although I’ve lived near Paris for almost four years now, the stringent rules and language barrier have so far put me off going swimming (I’ve never found the time anyway) but I’m really missing swimming recently, and could use the exercise, so am thinking I might finally try it out!

  4. Trina

    I just got my bees today and have a creek and spring on the property. I assumed that would be great for the water source. This first day I found many bee’s had located my small above ground pool and I had to cover it. Should I still put out water for them even with the creek on site?

    • Hilary

      If you don’t see them using the creek, I would try to provide something.

  5. Daniel

    This year for the first time since having the pool honey bees keep entering the water and drowning bythe hundreds. I will get them out and they will just walk or fly back into it. It just bothers me that so many have died and I can’t save them. There are several bird baths in the yard and earlier in the summer one of the birdbaths had many bees at it at all times during the day drinking. Any idea of this behavior of constantly entering the pool?

    • Hilary

      I would set up a larger body of water as an alternative as described above and see if it helps.

    • Carol

      I have found the same problem—bees want water but the landing on pool water will result in drowning. However, I’ve found bees almost dead who must’ve been “swimming” and are still revivable. If they are active still, I just scoop them out and place them on a horizontal plane (my fencing) and let them dry out. Most—not all— dry out and fly again. Sometimes I blow gently under their wings while their still in the net or along the edge. This both dries the wings and gives them lift. Don’t give up on an almost inert bee.

  6. Lindsey

    Do you have any suggestions for how to give bees that do fall in the pool the best chance at survival? I find myself scooping anywhere from 2-10 out of my apartment complex pool every day I’m in there and I know it’s often probably too late, but I want to do my best to give them the best chance once I gently lift them out and get them on dry land!

    • Hilary

      Set them in the sun so they can dry off.

  7. Mike

    How about a metal poultry waterer? They refill themselves and keep the water level low with a slanted lip so the bees don’t slip in. Maybe add some rocks or marbles. And keep an extra so switching out is easy if it’s a walk. I’m going to try it – interested in thoughts. Thanks for the article! Straight to the point and informative.

    • Hilary

      I have seen that work for some beekeepers. Give it a try!

  8. Ian carson

    are there any bee rescue floats that i can buy?

  9. Lara

    Hello, the local bees have made my pool their water source, if I put these little ponds that you recommend will they change their water source to that?

    Also for some bees, even after I save them from drowning they go and jump back into the pool, do you perhaps know why is that?

    Thank you very much!

    • Hilary

      Hi Lara, I can’t guarantee it, but it should at least help. The ones that go back into the pool may just be disoriented.



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My name is Hilary Kearney. I’m the author of the book, “Queenspotting” and founder of the urban beekeeping business Girl Next Door Honey in San Diego, California. I’m an artist turned beekeeper on a mission to help new beekeepers succeed and educate the public about the magic of bees!

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