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I just installed a rain barrel and I've been trying to figure out how to make it double as a bee water source.

The barrel is a off-the rack model from the hardware store. It has a bottom drain plug and a spigot 1/3 of the way from the bottom.

I have to keep the top covered because the wife is afraid the kiddies will somehow climb into it and drown.

Does anyone have any clever tricks for this?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Depending on how the top is placed/secured, you may be able to hang a towel/rag/rope over the side of the barrel to act as a moisture wick for the bees.

I have a rain barrel with floats in it for the bees, but the fact that it holds 55 gallons also means that the temperature of the water is often cooler than the air. Just like cold syrup, if the fluid is below about 50 degrees F, the bees can't use it.

I often see my bees foraging water from smaller sources of water that heat up in the sun faster than a rain barrel. At this of year they like the water on my 'leaf' lettuce plant leaves and water accumulated in smaller containers that warms up quickly.
 

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An easy way might bee to put a pan or trough of gravel under the spigot and let the water drip into the pan/container of gravel...the gravel allows bees to get to water without drowning.
 

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I am thinking using sands instead of gravel for better landing and the minerals too.
 
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