Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bees Need Water

You probably already knew that bees need water, but then again, did you know they need a good reliable source? Did you know that a hive can drink anywhere from 2 to 2 and 1/2 pints daily? And did you know that if they don't have a place to land while drinking, they easily drown?

Bees need water just like all living things, but they have some unique uses for water as well as normal body function. They use it to cool the hive during hot weather, to process the sugars they take in when being fed, and to maintain their nurseries (brood). 

And interestingly, bees seem to prefer "dirty" water that smells a bit over clean water. Apparently it is easier to find that way and they may be obtaining trace minerals as they drink from questionable sources. 

I've tried a couple of different options for keeping my bees in H2O, but my favorite so far is a large drip pan from a water heater. I just stopped up the hole with a piece of pvc with a cap attached and then added some rocks of various sizes along with the water (the rocks give them a place to land and drink from). I don't bother cleaning it out, but I just refill it as needed. I've located it near my irrigation system so that I can add a dripper to it should we go out of town to keep it full. And if it overflows, no big deal. A little extra debris from the grass and plants around it seems to appeal to the bees.

Just to update you on the bee saga... I tried not to fret over the weekend during yet another cold snap. However, they made it through, only to have to fight off robbing by some "foreign" bees today. I quickly added the entrance reducer, but when I came back a few hours later, it was a free-for-all. (And did I mention ants? This poor weak hive... if it makes it, it will be a miracle!)

A frenzy of bees from out of nowhere.

Fighting at the hive entrance.

{Sigh...} I feel so badly for these bees. This morning I'm going to further reduce the entrance and stuff it with some grass to slow down the robbing. Then I'm going to pray that these new bees move on their way and that they haven't killed my queen. There just aren't enough bees left to defend the hive and I suspect it may have already happened by what I saw late this afternoon. With so much going on, I don't see how they even have time to collect pollen or nectar. (Is this blog starting to sound depressing? I'm sure better days are ahead!)

Please share what you use to water your bees and any tips for hive robbers. I'm sure we could all use some ideas!


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