In today’s episode I present four of the many ways in which water can be provided for honey bees. If you are a backyard beekeeper like me or wish to become one then a vital thing to consider is how to provide water for the bees. Sure, they could try to find it on their own and they will with possible consequences that may not be received well by the neighbors.
Bees need water and beekeepers should be glad to provide it for them. Foragers seek it out and bring it back to the hive where other workers direct it to wax cells where it can be used for a few applications. Some workers will fan it furiously to help regulate hive temperature especially for cooling in hot weather. Others will use it to dilute thick honey for the bees. Today’s video presents some awesome close ups of how well the honey bee gathers water and then hauls it off in a flight back to the hive. It would be neat to see how the water is actually distributed in the hive.
It”s important to provide water for the bees rather than let them find it on their own. Just like anything here at ToDoListHome.com we provide for all the living things under our roof and in the yards. I provide water for my plants when needed so why not for the bees. They are certainly capable of finding water on their own but having several sources of water on the property guarantees waste supply. It also prevents bees from going into the neighbors yards looking for water. I happen to be fascinated by honey bees and wildlife in general and watching bees up close gather water that is helped to supply is fun. Dare I say it makes me a better human.
There are several ways to provide water for honey bees and the ones I employ are especially suited for my suburban home. One thing I make sure of when using these methods is to ensure the continuous flow of the water. This helps to prevent stagnation, mold and the development of mosquitoes.
The first method I will describe does not have running water per se but draws water out of the ground in an evenly flow. This is the method of building gardens into swales on contour with solid wood cores. The official name for this is hugelkultur and it is simply the technique of building gardens on top of and around logs of wood covered with branches, lease, compost and soil. Over time the wood logs absorb water and create a life systems full of necessary bacteria and the animals that develop a food chain around them. They and the soil around them supply water to the growing above land out of the soil. The plants in turn use the water to grow and make food and nectar for the other animals that depend on it. My experiments witch hugelkultur have shown that in just two years the irrigation of plants in such beds is no longer necessary as rainfall is absorbed, held and slowly released as necessary Bees and other animals benefit by getting more nectar and pollen produced from such well nourished plants.
Next, on top of the hugel gardens I place soaker hoses that efficiently put water right where the plants need as well to provide some run off and little sprays that create tiny pools and droplets of water that the bee come to get replenished by.
The best thing I use to provide water to the bees is the crude bird bath I made this past April. I got then idea online at http://www.laspilitas.com/garden/howto/birdbath.htm and the intention was just to provide water for birds. I wanted something to go along with the bird feeder I had made over the winter and a bird bath build looked like fun. Little did I realize how vital it would become for the bees. The construction is simple, the pump is extremely efficient and inexpensive and it has been working great for almost six months. For the last couple of months the bees certainly seem to enjoy it much more than the birds. Actually the birds are much harder to observed enjoying a drink or bath as they seem much more skittish. As you can see from the video the bees don’t seem to mind me filming them at all.
To help keep mosquitoes away I use half a Mosquito Dunk in the water hold and another half in the top basin. Mosquito Dunks is a larvaecide that kills mosquito larvae only. It is deemed organic by the EPA. Dunks are harmless to beneficial insects, pets, birds, fish or wildlife. They kill mosquito larvae within hours and lasts for up to 30 days. Each Dunk covers 100 square feet of surface area. This is the perfect solution for the systems I have in place. They can be placed wherever there is standing water or standing water will accumulate.
Lastly, I have a rain barrel that I sometimes set to a slow drip that might catch some bees attention. I place a mosquito dunk in the barrel which does not harm the bees and the bees come to it at their leisure. I have two of the barrels setup but this I haven’t had to use them much for the gardens because of all the rain we have had been in northern Virginia which is why I have been able to use them for the bees.
I have only described the methods I employ for providing water to the bees but there are many other ways to do it. The absolute best solution would be to have property with a nearby stream or pond. Yet, that’s not something that can be counted on in suburbia. A bee watering hole can be a simple as a bucket of water stuffed with straw or sticks inside for the bees to rest. Another easy solution is to provide a small a pan filled with rocks and water. A good old fashioned chicken water is another option many beekeepers and enthusiasts employ to provide to the bees. Of course with these methods you will have to replenish the water often and if you don’t try to prevent mosquitoes they will come to lay eggs. That’s it for today now go and do something useful for the animals in your backyard.
Music of the day – Lotus LIVE video from the 2013 Peach Music Festival