09 July 2013 06:04 PM
Scorcher today, which made me wonder - is it worth putting water out for bees? if so, how?
12 July 2013 02:50 PM #1
Hi Sabre Wolf,
Well yes you could, but it is more likely to be used by honey bees than bumblebees.
The classic thing do do is to have water available as a thin film, or with somewhere for the bees to land nearby, then walk.
Honey bees seem to prefer water with a bit of taste to it - so looking a bit manky and not clean / clear like human drinking water.
I have a tray of gravel with some larger stones in it. The bees land on the stones and put their proboscis down into the water. And they seem to like sipping water from amongst moss, or grass roots.
Wet peat is said to work OK.
Hen drinkers with floats in the water (corks ?) work OK as well
And you can sometimes watch bees sipping water from around the edge of puddles too. A ring of bees !
I’ve seen bumblebees collecting water from our pond - but this is a rare event that can occur in hot weather. They landed on a water lily leaf, then collected water from te pond beneath them.
HBs are regular water collectors and do this as routine unless there is a major nectar flow going on.
I hope this helps ! Clive
12 July 2013 05:11 PM #2
Thanks Clive, i should be able to rig up a gravel thing as we still have some left over in a sack from when we did our borders, i have a feeling a shallow amount of water will evaporate quickly in this weather tho so i’ll try and keep it topped up.
haven’t seen too many honey bees, but i thought the big furry bumblers would’ve been gasping for a drink in this weather.
13 July 2013 06:32 PM #3
Hi again Sabre Wolf,
Here are two photos about water collecting.
1. A B hypnorum collecting water from my pond - about 5 - 10 m from the nest box they were using.
(Sorry it is such a lousy photo, but BBs collecting water has been so unusual for me to see that I can’t find a better photo - despite my having a scan through many hundreds of BB photos to find it.)
2. A photo of part of my Gravel Tray in my apiary, with honey bees collecting water from it.
14 July 2013 07:52 AM #4
i pit a tinfoil tray out w/ a scattering of gravel pebbles in it, so hopefully that might be of some use to them if the weather keeps hot.
14 July 2013 09:16 AM #5
Hi Sabre Wolf & Clive,
My neighbour who was a bee keeper, used to tell me to put out an apple tray [one of the blue coloured ones] filled with rainwater and his bees would gather round the edge of the cups to have a drink.
Also, when we put our wildlife pond in, we left one of the shallow edges as a “pebble beach” for the frogs to climb out on to - and the honeybees would visit that to drink the water between the stones. On reflection, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen bumbles take a drink. Do you think that they get enough moisture from the nectar?
14 July 2013 12:37 PM #6
Just yesterday I installed a water butt at my new apiary, although there is a water-trough just a 100m away. Mine was made from a plastic stable muck bucket with strips of rubber-backed carpet “wire-tied” to the sides to create landing and rescue areas. The rubber backing keeps the carpet afloat and allows for changing water level.
I have never seen bumbles taking water, although their nest size/population is tiny compared with a honey-bee, so maybe the need is less and dew/nectar are sufficient? Water is used both for temperature regulation and thinning honey.
Probably due to communication, it’s interesting that given a huge pond, bees will often collect water from quite a small area, rather than the whole perimeter.
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