Water issues in beekeeping, water management, and the desert.
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    Anon, Anonymous
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    Default Water issues in beekeeping, water management, and the desert.

    Hey Friends,

    I haven't been active on this forum for a few years. I thought that my family would mutiny if I got bees and they were threatening to do so despite that I was very into it. (I like the idea that humans can make the animals work for them, instead of the other way around. And bees seem to fit this well.) Anyway this concept kept coming back to me how miraculous honey bees are. No other organism has such a very innovative social network when animals aren't supposed to be self aware on the same level humans are...)

    So where I'm going with this;

    I live in Utah. Utah was once called 'deseret'; but people have it all wrong. They thought 'deseret' meant honey bee but the running joke is 'deseret' is a play on words of being super hot like a desert and low humidity with not a lot of water.

    So it leaves me with a lot of worries before I get into this...I'm wondering how Beeks do water management for their hives, (and keep them from abandoning their hives) from heat and water issues? I would really like to dicuss this a bit, because here July, August especially, in Utah are kind of like Arizona in the heat.

    So I wonder how people in hot dry places keep their honey bees alive? What do they do and how often? Do they supply water or just make sure its within a certain distance? And if they do supply water, how often are they checking it etc? Maybe this is a good question for Arizona people too actually?

    I ...wish I could put a lot of questions here just about this issue. I actually don't live in a deseret exactly but it can be pretty dry here. (And the mountains near us we had snow on them all the way up until first week of July but this isn't normal. I hope this gives you an idea what things are like here.)

    And are people still able to do swarm trapping to get free bees? And, especially in places like Utah, Idaho, etc?



    Thanks. And I hope everyone gets tons of honey and has a successful bee year.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Sedgwick Co. KS
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    1,133

    Default Re: Water issues in beekeeping, water management, and the desert.

    Are there any water sources close? ( rivers, creeks, ponds ) What about neighbors who water lawns & flowers? It's tough to answer without knowing more info. Bees and other wild life can usually find some sources to survive, but during hot summer days I provide a close, renewable source for my bees.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Boston, MA, USA
    Posts
    253

    Default Re: Water issues in beekeeping, water management, and the desert.

    You can use drip irrigation equipment or a garden hose to set up a bee water fountain (sort of like a birdbath). There are lots of pictures on one. My bee water fountain is cascading bricks and rocks with moss and pebbles. The bees love it when it is hot out.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    Anon, Anonymous
    Posts
    135

    Default Re: Water issues in beekeeping, water management, and the desert.

    Thanks!

    I wonder on the bee water fountain, how would you set it up if you can only check your hives once or twice a week? I'm guessing not everyone has them in their yard,...and when that happens they probably can't go there everyday, or am I wrong on that?

    So if you can only go out to the spot periodically then I guess that would complicate a water set up even more? Penny for thoughts?

    Liked your ideas.

    Also on close water sources,...for that question, I don't know enough yet to know how close is close for bees? (Like within a couple houses or a mile?)

    A lot of my neighbors do flowers and also do morning sprinklers for their lawns, but they shut them off pretty fast. (And not sure how many of them using round up.) I'm also doing some gardening in the back, so I spray water on the back a lot too...and is having a hive too close to the sprinklers also a bad thing if the water ends up hitting the hive?

    Edited in later; I should have also asked...when you say they like it hot, how much can they take? Can you get hives to survive and make honey in pretty rough places for humans like backwoods Arizona, or semi-deserts?

    Thanks!

    Its really fun to learn from everyone here.
    Last edited by hagane; 07-22-2019 at 05:28 PM.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Sedgwick Co. KS
    Posts
    1,133

    Default Re: Water issues in beekeeping, water management, and the desert.

    Quote Originally Posted by hagane View Post

    Also on close water sources,...for that question, I don't know enough yet to know how close is close for bees? (Like within a couple houses or a mile?)

    A lot of my neighbors do flowers and also do morning sprinklers for their lawns, but they shut them off pretty fast. (And not sure how many of them using round up.) I'm also doing some gardening in the back, so I spray water on the back a lot too...and is having a hive too close to the sprinklers also a bad thing if the water ends up hitting the hive?

    Edited in later; I should have also asked...when you say they like it hot, how much can they take? Can you get hives to survive and make honey in pretty rough places for humans like backwoods Arizona, or semi-deserts?

    Bee will go a mile or more for water if that's all that's available. The down side of that is you're wearing them out hauling water long distances instead of pollen & nectar.

    If you're gardening out back, letting a hose run into a kids plastic swimming pool at a trickle should be no problem for you. I think you're over thinking this. They might surprise you how well they can care for themselves.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    2,082

    Default Re: Water issues in beekeeping, water management, and the desert.

    I have 4 ornamental ponds, 3 are quite small, all have a pump and small waterfall of some kind and there are surfaces where bees can light and get water. the trouble with desert, drought and bees is dearth: I have spent plenty in drought years on sugar for syrup. This year i don't even have feeder lids on the hives, I think mesquite is still blooming, and I just pulled honey last weekend. In drought years if you get a pint of honey from a hive you were lucky. I don't rob bees to death.

    In drought years there were still cutouts from houses, but fewer swarms. The cutouts stores often looked like red hummingbird food
    Stuck in Texas. Learning Permaculture in drought, flood and strange weather. The bees are still alive.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
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    1,446

    Default Re: Water issues in beekeeping, water management, and the desert.

    Over the years I've seen several imaginative water feeders on various bee-related web-sites - ranging from simple bird feeders to more elaborate inclined devices.

    I really like the idea of inclined feeders - these are usually made from a long plank of wood (although I suspect a length of guttering with a few millimetres of sand along it's bottom would do the same job) supported such that it slopes downwards at a very gentle angle.
    A container of water (plastic drum ?) is then mounted above the highest end of the plank such that water is allowed to drip onto it at about one drip per second. Such a plank has thin battens attached along it's sides, with alternating batten stubs every few inches, such that the water is obliged to meander as it slowly travels down and along the plank. The overall effect is to create a wet surface over a relatively large area, which the bees can then access safely. At one drip a second it then becomes a no-brainer to figure out how long between container 'top-ups'.

    I'd say such a device - especially under some shade - would provide a useful water supply. If possible, I'd recommend it be placed at least 50 feet away from the nearest hive to prevent contamination from clearance pooping.
    'best
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,768

    Default Re: Water issues in beekeeping, water management, and the desert.

    I had a long talk with Dee Lusby's Father-in-law one day a few years ago. He said his father moved the bees out of Tucson out to the desert and at first they didn't make any honey, until he figure out he had to have them within 1/4 mile of water. He moved the hives next to the water tanks for the cattle and put some boards in the tanks for floats for the bees to land on. Then they started to make honey.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Sisters, Oregon
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: Water issues in beekeeping, water management, and the desert.

    Quote Originally Posted by hagane View Post
    Hey Friends,

    I'm wondering how Beeks do water management for their hives, (and keep them from abandoning their hives) from heat and water issues?
    I'm at 3100 elevation and considered high desert. I use a bird bath and 2 extra rubber large feed bowls below it as backup. It's within 50 feet of my apiary. I have 5 hives and the spa is very popular. I would swear that they play in it. I also put a trace of salt in the water in the bird bath one and they favor it. Highly entertaining.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Water issues in beekeeping, water management, and the desert.

    I have a stream less than 100 yds from my hive, behind a stand of pines, is that enough?

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