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I have a large pond probably 1/8 mile away - 1/4 at the most. Is this sufficient, or should I supplement? I used to put a wide galvanized pail of water with a floatie on it 50 feet in front of the hives, but they didn't seem to care about it.
 

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Mine pick up some water from animal dishes, a skid steer loader bucket (with mud and rust), but their favorite spot is over a clear stream to a bank on my Mom’s pond (about 1/8 mile away). They have their choice of tiny rocks or mud to land on, while sucking up some algae and fishy water.

I keep a rubber maid laid over at a angle justso they are never completely without a water source. But bees are notorious for passing up clean water to go for, .... well, less clean water.
 

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Your pond is plenty close enough and will be a good water source. I myself would not worry about giving them other sources, so long as the pond does not go dry or stagnant but stays fresh.
 

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My local BMPs say I need to provide a water source within 50 feet of my hives. They particularly like water that leeches out of the bottom of potted plants.
 

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My water source is something like 100 feet or so. I had good results in a shorter distance, but it was very hard to maintain. This one is near my door so I can actually maintain it pretty well.

The other problem was it freezing when I put it in other locations - and staying frozen.

They also like the neighbors swimming pools -

We have creeks like 1/8th of a mile away...and yet they go to pools.

They use my water most obviously in the fall, and super obvious come spring.

Then sometime in June they abandon my artificial watering holes - and I frankly don't understand why.

Any thoughts?
 

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My guess is that the swimming pools are warmer than other waters in spring and fall. Water temperature is important as flight muscles don't work so well when bee bodies are cold, and hauling cold water doesn't help that problem.
 

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Whoops sorry my post was worded confusingly.

To clarify:
The bees like to drink my water in the fall and spring (it's super obvious - they flock to my water), then in June, they disappear from my water, and go to neighbors swimming pools instead.

That's what I don't understand - why does my water become less attractive in the Summer?
 

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I know nothing about pool maintenance but I do know bees like water that smells whether that be algae, mud, (like Akademee said water that's filtered through potting soil) or maybe a chemical that people only use while they use their pool in the summer? Does anyone know about when chemicals are used on pools?
 

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Should of just made one post, but I keep wanting to add things.

To clarify: Less chemicals in the pools in fall/winter/spring means it's less attractive to the bees, lot's of chemicals in the summer while people are using the pools, means very attractive leading them all away from your water.
 

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My guess is that the swimming pools are warmer than other waters in spring and fall. Water temperature is important as flight muscles don't work so well when bee bodies are cold, and hauling cold water doesn't help that problem.
This has been my experience. During the fall and winter I leave out a bucket of warm water (with an aquarium heater) to keep my bees out of my neighbors hot tub. During the summer when my pond is warm(ish) they will go there, but when the water gets cold they dont want to go to the pond anymore.
 

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I think providing a water source for bees applies mostly to urban areas, where you are trying to prevent them from being a nuisance to neighbors. Probably smart in that setting.
I've always kept bees in rural areas and have never provided water because there has always been a pond, lake, creek or other source within flying distance.
 

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How do wild bees survive without filled water bowls 50' away? I wouldn't sweet it with a pond that close.
It can also depend a lot on the area. In dryer places it is not hard to get to a point where you are several miles from a natural water source that is available year round.
 
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