Softened Water and Bees
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lackawanna County, PA, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Softened Water and Bees

    This past winter I had a (sodium chloride/iron removal) softener system installed.
    My first mixture of sugar/H2O was dumped after I realized the treated H2O added.
    Afterwards, I researched the issue on the web, and found that bees with often search out
    potentially hazardous brackish water for minerals, plus we all know that the love chlorinated pools.

    Thoughts, discussion and evidentary opinions please.

    regards,
    Steve

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    3,291

    Default Re: Softened Water and Bees

    Neighbor across the hill has a saltwater pool about 1000 ft as the bee flys. They have closer water sources, a chlorinated pool 30 ft away, other pools 300-500 ft away and a natural stream 500ft away on the way to saltwater pool. Neighbor says they drink from grout lines between tiles of the saltwater pool pretty much all year long. Seems like the bees are seeking out the saltwater pool as a more valuable source than closer sources available.

    No idea about softened water. I mean you drink it, so it can't be too bad. I've never noticed a major problem with chlorinated/saltwater pools, but again its difficult to analyze and quantify the impact. You may be able to find a scientific study on this topic. I give them boiled Louisville tap water in syrup, its like 120ppm, very good drinking water, probably one of the best in the nation.

  4. #3

    Default Re: Softened Water and Bees

    I have a 'salt' softener mainly for iron removal. I have mixed sugar syrup using that water for 15 years without a problem.
    All of those type softeners I've seen cycle the salt water through the media during the middle of the night and even bypass the unit while doing so. After the cycle the units flush the media with plain water. Any salt residue should be minimal. Put it in the 'no problem' category.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    4,646

    Default Re: Softened Water and Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by rbcsaver View Post
    I researched the issue on the web, and found that bees with often search out
    potentially hazardous brackish water for minerals, plus we all know that the love chlorinated pools.
    Why do you think that these are hazardous to bees?

    My rule of thumb, for the most part if I can eat or drink it my bees can too.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Jackson, Ohio (SE Ohio) USA
    Posts
    817

    Default Re: Softened Water and Bees

    When I first got into keeping bees, put out "checken waterer's" with stones or wine corks in the lip for the bees. Naturally, the bees ignored them and found their own water source. I was told by a couple of old timer's (I'm pushing 70) that bees like a little salt in the water. For me, never really understood bees, water, and minerals, until I observed them at the edge of a spring. Seemed more interested in the mud at the edge where deer had been and left tracks than the actual water.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Dayton, TN
    Posts
    185

    Default Re: Softened Water and Bees

    I have a couple of those chicken feeders that I will use for open feeding but when not in use they will fill with rain water and the bees hardly touch them. I also have one of those plastic concrete mixing tubs that is full of limestone and rain water. The bees love it. Never really thought about it until now but maybe there is something to minerals in water that the bees prefer.
    Andy

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Indiana, Clay County
    Posts
    739

    Default Re: Softened Water and Bees

    Vote same as beemandan, no problems here
    Dad always said " Smart like tractor, strong like bull "

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lackawanna County, PA, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Softened Water and Bees

    Let me clear about one thing. I am a novice in my 3rd attempt at keeping 2-3 colonies alive.
    My concern about the softened H2O, started when I realized that it rapidly kills house plants.
    I know that bees aren't plants and I didn't think it through first because I remembered reading about
    the dangers of brackish H2O in this literature:

    http://jeb.biologists.org/content/je...32019.full.pdf
    However, the problem is not the salt or minerals, but potential "xenobiotics."
    From what I read, this also a problem with our food plants treated with neonicotinoids,
    which are excreted from the plants (esp. corn) in a process called guttation.

    https://www.bee-safe.eu/article/not-...salt-foraging/

    Then I remembered reading about maintaining hives when I first started and tried the essential
    oils (unsuccessfully) to control mites. At that time, I also placed a few small chunks of Himalayan Salt
    by the feeders for "added nutrients." Rarely, did I ever see any bee activity on the salt. I do have one of those
    inverted water suppliers for chickens. I filled the trough with 2B stone, so that the girls could drink and not drown.
    The grey 2B ("driveway") stone was convenient because that is the base of my bee yard.
    I am now going to add some small amounts of the Himalayan salt (after because of the trace
    elements) to the water trough and see how that works out.

    My wife has horses and we a dog. She has wisely educated me to pay attention to their communication,
    via behaviors and interactions. I enjoy sitting and watching the bees before it gets too hot for my bee suit,
    and they haven't become aggressive, because I am allergic to their stings.

    That said after checking that my queens were out of their cages last Fri., a warm day, unlike today in the 40's with snow showers
    tonight turning to rain on Mon., I sat and observed the new hive packages, coming and going, after rain the day before. I noticed
    more a a few bees on the 2B stones, that had red streaks in them. I wonder if that red indicated iron oxide, and was their goal.

    I should also add that we have "pond" on our property, no far from the bees. It was here when we purchased the property years ago.
    It receives some property rain run off. It is maybe 20' x 20', no clue how deep, full of frogs and cattails, but I also never looked, nor would it
    be easy, to observe for bees. I also live out in the country amongst corn fields, drainage ditches, and occasional pool, area horses, cows, chickens,etc.

    Thanks to everyone for their replies.
    Last edited by rbcsaver; 04-29-2018 at 01:31 PM.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Softened Water and Bees

    If this is so distressing to you, add a tap to the line going from your well into the softener to get your bees' water before it passes through the device.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    West Jordan, UT, USA
    Posts
    1,121

    Default Re: Softened Water and Bees

    The bees will go to where they find what they want, regardless of your wishes. You could give them the purest water source and add the HImalayan salts, then find them the next morning in the wet horse tracks or the pond and all those 'potential hazards'. Because they want what you ain't giving them.
    IMO, fresh water is rarely on their menu but YMMV.
    Never ask a barber it he thinks you need a haircut.

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