How to create a water station for honey bees

Bees are busy creatures and collect four essential resources each day, depending on what the colony needs at the time; namely nectar, pollen, propolis, and water. Interesting fact: A honeybee usually forages for one of these resources a day - so, if their job is to collect water that is the only thing they will forage until there is enough to cater for the needs of the colony at the time.

According to My Beeline a honeybee foraging for water makes about 50 trips a day collecting about 25 mg each time. In summer high, a colony may need several liters of water per day to survive. So, where does all this water go? Honeybees need water for humidity and temperature control in the hive; to digest and metabolize their food properly; and, finally bee food also requires a lot of water.  The optimal hive temperate is 35°C and if it increases higher than this temperature, the colony can be in danger and wax combs may begin to melt. So, in short, water is as important for bees as it is for us humans…

If your garden attracts a lot of bees, we’d recommend setting up a water station so that they can get their daily intake of H2O. If you are interested in learning how to create a more bee-friendly garden, visit this link.

How to create a water source for honey bees:

  1. Use fresh water and make sure that the water source is kept free of harmful chemicals.
  2. Attract the honeybees to your water source. Biologists believe that bees use scent, not sight, to locate a water source. According to Backyard Beekeeping, by adding a teaspoon of chlorine bleach to your water; creating a seawater/fishy smell (tip: add a handful of ground oyster shells to a pie pan of water to achieve this smell); or using a weak sugar solution will help attract bees to your water source. After about a week of seeing the bees return to your water source you can revert to pure/clean water.
  3. Refill your water source. Bees are creatures of habit, so it is important not only to attract them to your water source but to keep the water levels topped up to ensure the bees return.
  4. Make sure it is safe. Bees can easily drown, so if you are creating a water source, make sure it is easily accessible and safe for them to use. Depending on the set up of your water source, you can add floating devices to the water – things like corks and stones work well for this.
  5. The water source should be close to a hive. Bees don’t usually fly too far from their hive in search of water unless there is an urgent need for it (in these cases they have been known to travel up to 8 kilometers).

You can make your own water station.

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