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I am starting out with one hive. I am concerned that the local water sources (streams)will dry up in the summer, as I know they tend to do. However, there are some ponds on adjacent fields to my potential hive location. They don't seem too clean , almost stagnant. Will water sources like this be adequate? How far will the bees go to collect water?
 

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Bees love stinky water. Maybe it is easier to share their find with other bees, but it appears that they will go to a water source with smell before they will go to a clean water source.

>How far will the bees go to collect water?

As far as they have to, just like nectar or pollon. A near-by source will make their travel time much shorter. They don't normally go any farther than they have to, but I have seen mine come to the bird bath by the house 150 yards from the hives when there is a spring fed creek 50 feet away. So, who can predict what they will do?
 

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FordGuy sez:
they will find water.

tecumseh replies:
you have evidently never reared bees in or around Lubbock, Texas. of all the things that I have ever done with the bees, hauling water in 55 gallon drums seemed the most fruitless. we did learn however, so that the following year we placed the bees up next to the Lubbock Texas waste water treatment plant.
 

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Yes the bees will find water. The point is that you should help the bees be as efficient as possible. Time it takes them to fly a mile or two for water is time and effort that could be used in producing honey, etc.

Although I have never lived in Lubbock, with a population estimated in 2004 as over 204,000 residents, I would imagine its not as futile as some suggest in water sources. Bees are resourceful. Water clogged in downspouts, dripping water hoses, birdbaths, stagnant pools and run-off systems, swimming pools, dog bowls, etc., are all sources. Not that you may want your bees visiting all these places, but that was not the question. I agree with fordguy that your bees will survive and find water. Even in Lubbock Texas. And even if you do not provide any yourself.

But I would suggest helping them out perhaps with your own water source.
 
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