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Watering Bees

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By Larro Land
(Trophy Club, TX)

I had a hive in early 70’s when I volunteered to
remove a swarm. It was tragic as I did not know mites…

I moved into a new development recently.

My question now is – water. Everyone has/getting a pool. I have one, and hate netting ladybugs, ants, etc.

What is best way to water the horses?


Hi Larro,

I also started beekeeping in the 1970’s. And things were indeed very different back then. No mites, no Africanized bees, no hive beetles, No Colony Collapse Disorder, not as many silly laws about how/where you can keep bees, and so on.

Beekeeping is still a wonderful hobby, but no question it was easier back then. But enough of my Old Fogey ranting. On to your question…

It’s an important question, too, because a single colony can use more than a quart of water on a hot day. (Or so I’ve read – never measured it myself!). Honey bees have a number of different uses for water, including using it to air condition their hive through evaporative cooling.

So it’s important that bees have a source of water. And for beekeepers with neighbors, it’s important that the water source be near the beekeeper’s hives. Otherwise, his/her bees will make pests of themselves by getting water from the neighbors’ pet watering bowls, swimming pools, etc.

There’s really only 2 criteria for providing water for bees:

1) The water should be clean and fresh. It should be changed frequently, too. If you have a dog or a cat, you give it fresh water on a regular basis. Do the same for your bees.

2) The bees need to be able to access the water without drowning. If you just put out a bucket of water, the bees will get water from it, but many will slip into the water and drown in the process. A bucket of water with wood chips floating on top would be fine.

By providing a good source of water, beekeepers should be able to keep most of their water-foraging bees at home instead of at the neighbor’s pool.

And if the beekeeper has a pool of his/her own, then providing a good source of clean water will hopefully cut down on the number of bees in his/her own pool.

Good luck, and I hope you’re able to avoid having too many ‘horses’ in your pool!

Jun 02, 2011
Watering bees
by: Cindi

I saw a great idea. A beekeeper filled one of those “automatic” dog or cat waterers with water, the kind that has about a gallon jug that you turn upside down into the holding “tank.” Then they filled the reservoir/tank with a bunch of rocks to keep the bees from drowning.

I modified that. I have a bunch of garden pots turned upside down and in a cluster. I put those throw-away aluminum pie pans on top of them, and I filled them with rocks. The bees love it and I love sitting and watching them drink. Of course, my chickens are onto it now and THEY love it too. That means I have to fill it more often than the other way, but that keeps it fresh. 🙂

That’s a great idea, Cindy!

Fortunately, I live in an area where I don’t have to worry about my bees pestering neighbors. And there are plenty of places where they can safely get a drink of clean water.

If that weren’t the case, I would definitely give your idea a try. Anyone that’s in the process of setting up a hive in their yard might consider giving this idea a try from the start.

Thanks for taking the time to share your idea, Cindy.


I am so excited to be able to share everything I have learned about bees and beekeeping from 3 generations of beekeepers. We can't have a healthy planet without healthy bees so let's work together and make the world a better place!

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