View Full Version : Providing water for bees

07-16-2005, 10:56 PM
I want to start giving the bees water. I think not doing so from the start has been my biggest mistake so far. I just got back from my brother’s house, he has 2 hives about 100 yards away from his pool, it was a week long battle to keep my kids from getting stung. I hate to think that my bees are doing the same to a neighbor. How do I get them to switch water sources? I did a search and people mentioned adding lemongrass oil to the water. Where do I get it and how much do I add? Would “Honey Bee Healthy” work the same?


07-17-2005, 05:47 AM
I've been giving mine waterfrom an entrance feeder.
It's surprising how fast they go thru it.
~1 qt in 2 days
Check here for essential oils


Some say HBH at the entrance could trigger robbing. I've been using wintergreen and haven't had a problem.


07-20-2005, 01:20 PM
I have a swamp about 80 yards from the bees. I took a walk today and saw about 10 bees getting water from the shallows. Do bees use 2 water sources or would this be it? If they are using this swamp should I still provide them with water? Will swamp water make my honey taste swampy?

Michael Bush
07-20-2005, 01:23 PM
>Do bees use 2 water sources or would this be it?

They may use many sources.

>If they are using this swamp should I still provide them with water?

It's your choice.

>Will swamp water make my honey taste swampy?

No. The bees can filter quite small particles from water or nectar.

Brent Bean
07-20-2005, 03:25 PM
ItÂ’s been my observation that honeybees prefer natural water sources, ponds, streams, swamps etc. is the pool closer to the hives than the swamp? Getting them to switch? The source would have to be interrupted somehow. A couple of hives that I have are a long ways form water sources I use a chicken fount. But once they start using it never let the water run out or they will switch and not come back without a lot of hassle. We just had a long conversation on the very subject at our last meeting.

07-20-2005, 04:19 PM
I have a birdbath located about 40-50 feet from my hive. I've only seen one bee take a slurp. The rest just exit the hive, corkscrew up, and away they go. Not too sure where they drink. I like the idea of putting water right at the hive in the sugar feeder.


07-20-2005, 06:04 PM
Great ideas drobbins & dgoodman!

Bees forage the more profitable sources that are nearest to the hive for water. So feeding them at the entrance, or inside the hive for a few weeks should lure them from the pools. I would feed them with pool water for a short time, this would provide an identical source of water and it would ‘win out’ over the pools by providing more profitability for the bees. I would also add a small pool or bird bath near to the colonies. Flat rocks laid in the pool positioned so that they stay wet on top are attractive to water foragers and provide a safe place to land.

07-20-2005, 06:27 PM
my wife always wanted a gold fish pond in her back yard , so when we built the new house wooo la a fifteen ft dia.x 4ft deep fish pond with all the trimings water fall fish lily pads and bull frog from the creek 350 ft away. all 20 hive love it

07-20-2005, 10:59 PM
The hive faces the swamp and it is closer than any pool in the neighborhood. It was nice finally seeing the bees away from the hive, I've been looking at flowers for months and this is the first time.

07-20-2005, 11:12 PM
My creek is less than fifty foot from the bee yard. My sister has a little fountain on her patio (100 yds away) that she likes for her dogs and cats and she also likes the sound of trickling water. She is perturbed at me and the bees because she had to drain it for all the bees all over it. :(

Robert Hawkins
07-21-2005, 12:35 AM
Sometimes it's necessary to think like a bee to manage our hives. Bees have more than one word for water. Saltwater, Clorinated water, high protein water, and high mineral water. Just providing them clean water or pond water might not satisfy their need for clorinated water.


NW IN Beekeeper
07-21-2005, 02:13 AM
I would not use pool water to water my bees.
You have to consider the chemicals that you might use to chlorinate, balance PH, or even clarify your water. While some of the chemicals evaporate or diminish with time, others may have adverse effects which no labs have studied the specific impact on bees, reproduction, or honey quality.

The same consideration should be thought about in ponds, as many algecide products contain high heavy metals (copper to name one off the top of my head) that is known to kill fish and is highly toxic to dogs and raccoons that source from a treated pond. Toxicity usually a concern for a limited time, but that time depends on the intensity of treatment, size of the pond, and many other factors such as temperature, rain, and the health of the pond to start.

IMO - I'd much rather just stirr up my own muddy well water in a birdbath (or rubber pig trough like I do).

NW IN Beekeeper
07-21-2005, 02:16 AM
My opinion was based upon the idea that by directly supplying some sort of treated water you may impress upon the bees to use your source rather than laboring to a more distant and possibly safe source.

I don't know if bees are lazy?
Or if they are intuitive enough to know poisons?
Then again dogs drink anti-freeze- makes you wonder.

07-21-2005, 06:38 AM
I got a bunch of mosquito bites from watching the bees at the swamp. That Dam farm down the road is taking all my bee enjoyment. I wish they would hang around my yard a bit more.

07-21-2005, 07:02 PM
Feeding bees pool water ‘temporally’ should lure them from the pool water that they are already drinking, and help quell the neighbors complaining, clean water may not accomplish this. Then, a swith can be made to a fresh source. Bees that communicate a smell associated with a water source, will generally win out over a less smelly source. This is why bees choose a pool over the creek, and the dog pen over the fish pond. And why a clean source may not distract them from the pool.

08-05-2005, 10:39 AM
We have a old washtub, with a water hyasinth (spelling?) in it. Our bees just love it on a normal day we have about 20 bees on it at once. The only prob is that I have to keep the leaves trimmed out of the water or they rot.

08-05-2005, 01:20 PM
I've used Lemon Pledge to lure bees to a new water source. Nazmov pherimone (?). Anyway, it worked for me. Sprayed the stump the dish is on and sprayed a trail on the ground from the hives to the stump. Bees were there the next day.

Definitely not what it was made for.


08-05-2005, 03:11 PM
I keep water at my bees all the time. They are in the pans and buckets all the time. I was told the closer the water the less they had to fly and saves on there wings. Take care JJ

08-05-2005, 04:41 PM
Build this deluxe bee watering hole where your bees can hang out for a bit of R & R. But in light of the heat wave, IÂ’d consider making it big enough for the beekeeper to take a dip also.


08-06-2005, 06:03 AM
I have this feeder


Can I just put water in it? DO you think the bees will take it from there?


08-06-2005, 02:35 PM
Lead Pipe,

They will take it from there, but I never liked the idea of adding moisture into a colony. Excess moisture in a colony can set the stage for disease.