The extremely hot temperatures felt in northeast Georgia, USA recently has caused me to think about water sources for bees. I am not talking about sugar water either. They need plain old fashioned water.
Many people do not realize they should provide water sources for bees. They just set up their hives and let the bees fend for themselves. But like every other living creature, they indeed need water too. Just as we provide fresh clean water for our pets we should provide water for our bees.
Why do bees need water?
- water helps cool the hive
- they use water to raise the humidity in the hive
- they use water to dilute or de-crystalize honey to feed larva
- water is used to keep brood moist
- They especially need water during strong brood rearing times such as early spring.
There are numerous ways to provide water for your bees. Remember bees do not swim very well so provide them a landing pad of some kind! You can use sticks, rocks, cork, styrofoam, etc.
- bird baths
- small water feature with plants
- leave a faucet dripping on a board
- chicken waterers
- a dog or cat feeder/waterer
- drips around irrigation hoses
It is recommended to try setting up a “watering hole” for your bees at the earliest stage of your beekeeping adventures. If the bees find a different “watering hole” first or one they like better (such as a neighbors swimming pool or still wet fresh washed laundry!) it may be impossible or very difficult to break them from visiting there.
Where I am located my bees have a variety of opportunities for water sources. We are blessed to have a creek on the backside of our property and a bigger creek less than half a mile down the road. They have plenty of space so I only see a handful at a time at their watering holes.
Don’t be surprised if you discover your bees are going to disgusting water holes they find out and about! For example, The Maximus Hound likes to come around to the front of the house every morning to water the ornamentals. It can be quite disgusting at times but that is where a lot of bees are visiting. I have geese and they get their swimming pool water nasty in a hurry but I find bees right there. I have waterers in the chicken coop and the bees are found visiting in there.
We keep our bees in man made boxes. We are responsible for helping them survive. This includes providing water sources.