Have you ever thought about where honeybees get their water from?
Maybe you've seen honeybees attempt to drink from a pool, or hovering around your bird bath... but usually that doesn't end up very well for anyone involved.
Honeybees need water to survive and it plays an important part in the hive. Similar to humans, honeybees are mostly water and thus require it to quench their own thirst. But besides that, honeybees carry water back to the hive to hydrate the queen and brood (larvae). They also use water within the hive to provide their own source of humidity when its dry, and A/C when it's hot out. Maintaining a good level of moisture and cool air flow within the hive is key to keeping the brood alive.
As you can see, having water is pretty essential for these guys, yet in climates that a typical Sacramento summer can yield it can be hard to come by without fear of drowning in a pool or being consumed by birds.
So what is the best way for a honeybee to get a sip of water?
There are a few options to explore, to keep our favorite pollinators hydrated (and if you live in Sacramento, you know how dry it can bee in late summer.) Try out one of these DIY Bee Fountains in your yard!
1. Leaky Hose
It sounds counter intuitive, but when you hose down the grass, or have a slight leak in the hose and let it sit (for a couple of hours or so), can actually be beneficial to the bees. When water slowly leaks into the ground, it leaves it thoroughly moistened. This moist, yet solid surface, attracts the bees and allows them to extract the water from the soil. In addition, the soil also infused the water with key nutrients and minerals that support the immune system of the bee.
This also mimics a riverbed or stream's edge, where a honeybee would instinctively look for to find water.
A great tool for moistening soil while covering more ground than leaky hose, is to install soaker hose. This way you can water your yard and the bees simultaneously!
(Note: Honeybees navigate by the sun and therefore only come out during the day. Be sure you water in the late afternoon for the best overall effect.)
2. Rocky Fountain
For lack of a better term, the "Rocky Fountain," is an excellent way for bees to access fresh water.
While the above picture seems a bit grand, hear us out. Creating a fountain that has rocks protruding from the water is a highly effective way to provide a source of water for honeybees. While the full waterfall is a bit grand, you can easily create a simpler version of this idea in your yard. Place a shallow dish, a shallow bird bath, in an open area of your yard, perhaps near a flowering plant. Fill the dish with rocks to the point that they are protruding from the dish. Fill up the rest of the way with water, and then you're done!
It's as simple as that. Honeybees will now be able to perch on the rocks, while they drink. The key is to create an environment that allows the bees to get close enough the the water to take a sip, while remaining on a fairly flat surface. This is why pools aren't so good - a bee has to leave over the edge so far to get to the water, that they attempt to fly down and land, but come to find they have no where to go.
This same, simplistic idea can be used in a myriad of ways, and changed, depending on what you like best. Try this same idea and sub in wine corks for the rocks (they will float, acting as mini boats for the bees), or lily pads for a more organic approach.
3. Splash Fountain
Not unlike Disney's "Splash Mountain," the concept behind this water source is that the waves and splashing of water cascading down a fountain flings droplets onto the edges of the fountain, in perfect, bee-sized beads. The droplets that accumulate on the edges of fountains leave plenty of surface for a bee to land, and take a quick sip before jetting off back to the hive.
4. Combination Bee Fountain
Like all three of these ideas for a DIY Bee Fountain? They why not combine them all to make one large water source?!
On a large scale, these multi-purpose fountains can give you a creative outlet and also support the life of other plants and animals. See some examples below:
Thanks for reading our blog, and as always, have a bee-utiful day Bee Boxers!