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Honeybee on biochar

 
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What do you guys think this honeybee is doing on my pee-soaked biochar?  He was obviously doing something, he’d fly from bucket to bucket and walk around on it a little doing something with his mouth …
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Mother Tree
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When bees go after my pee it's time to check my blood sugars!
 
J Nuss
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Hehe, there can’t be any sugar left in that stuff, it’s been sitting there for months and diluted by rain water the whole time too. Don’t think my urine has any sugar in it anyhow, I have had recent urinalysis done because they wanted to check for infection… no infection and no one mentioned sugar in my pee
 
J Nuss
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Another one (or the same one) just came back.  I wonder what they are after?  Fungus maybe ?
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pollinator
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If it's wet then probably just after water.
 
J Nuss
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Maybe, but it didn’t seems to be going after the water specifically, and was dabbing around with its mouth on the more dry top stuff. Peculiar anyway!  There was probably plenty of water around I had just ran the irrigation last night
 
pioneer
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Maybe they are going after the salts from the pee? Ants do.
 
steward
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I've noticed that honeybees seem to prefer any source of moisture that isn't open water. a friend noticed some sipping from a recently watered tray of seedlings. I've often seen them on wood chips that I pee on. or wet moss. or mats of algae on a pond. or any number of other damp places. I don't know why this is. could be minerals. could be fungus or bacteria or some other organism. could be just avoiding the danger of getting stuck and drowning in open water. could be something else entirely that hasn't occurred to me. that last one seems the most likely.
 
J Youngman
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Natural Bee Keeping, Salt

Salt needs of bees
 
tel jetson
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this just came to my attention:
Ratios rather than concentrations of nutritionally important elements may shape honey bee preferences for ‘dirty water’
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/een.13067
 
J Nuss
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That’s interesting.  I have noticed more and more honeybees on these buckets of biochar.  I took a video of one…. I tried to upload it here but movies aren’t allowed so I slapped it on my YouTube channel.  What do you guys think?  They don’t seem to be sipping at the liquid, and hang around for quite a while flitting here and there seemingly foraging for “something”.  This one seems to be spreading something on its body ?  https://youtube.com/shorts/bIgJKT8P9pw
 
tel jetson
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she sure doesn't look like she's after water. if it's the minerals she's after, I would expect their concentration to be higher toward the top of the bits that are proud of the water where. could also just be exploring a little, seeing what's available. there's some colony learning about what resources exist and where they exist that's required for them to take advantage of those resources. maybe just an informational excursion for her to report on back home.
 
J Nuss
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Today I’ve seen up to three at a time on the bucket… word seems to be spreading that there’s “something” desirable here…
 
J Nuss
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Well it’s official…. Honeybees just basically come to these buckets all day every day.  An individual hangs around for multiple minutes with preference for the dryers top stuff. maybe I should stir them (I don’t).  They land in a place, dab around, fly some and land somewhere else.  They shack out the other buckets that aren’t overflowing  (picture related, they inspect but ignore the left bucket and prefer the drier right bucket over the middle wetter bucket).  These buckets were made amateurly by burning piles of brush that needed to go and quenching when it got low.  Pee and probably worm tea were mixed in and I probably did some mixing and stirring a few months ago but they’ve just sat untouched since.  They are under my deck in the shade.

So I guess, even though I still don’t know what they are after, minerals seems to be the most probable answer, but who knows…. ? I guess the take-away is that beekeepers would probably benefit in unknown ways by keeping such a thing around!  I know earlier in the season there was another species of bee (or fly?) I noticed was loving it too, by the way.  I haven’t observed bumbles or other bees landing on it, and a bumble even just came and checked out the honeybee that was currently on it before continuing on.
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J Nuss
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Happy accident experiment stage two … I heaped some of the underwater stuff up and moved stuff from the bucket that was full of water and made a few piles.  The bee that was on it when I did this didn’t move and when he discovered the new stuff that was wet he stayed in one spot extra long and did seem to be drinking.
 
J Nuss
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Oh no … now that I changed it, I just saw a bee come and inspect it, not land, and leave… man! I hope I didn’t ruin it!
 
J Nuss
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Whew okay, guess that one was just finicky.  They are still coming.  Not a swarm at a time but one to two bees at a time almost continuously
 
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