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Water for bees

 
Melvin Hendrix
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Paul mentioned that Christy was going to offer some advice about providing water for bees. There are several insectary beds in my garden with plants covered with bees and other pollinators during the season. Water is provided at several locations, one with a slow dripping hose. The wasps seem to frequent more often than others. What does christy recommend.

 
Bippy Grace
Posts: 13
Location: Elgin, Texas 581 ft elevation/ zone 8b/ 34 inches avg. rainfall (hah)/ Mediterranean climate
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I'm not sure what Christy recommends, but I've seen fountains where one of the levels is filled with marbles to give the bees a safe place to stop off and fill their tanks. It's also really pretty to see the water flow over the marbles, so it works as a decorative element in the garden as well. I'm hoping to put one in my front yard in the next couple of months.
 
Melvin Hendrix
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Bippy, thanks for the suggestion. I've used stones of varying heights in the water basins, but not marbles. I've got a bunch that needs repurposing and will do so this season.
 
Rod Foster
Posts: 16
Location: Missoula, MT USDA Zone 4a
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get a small bucket and fill it with clean pebbles rocks and fill so the rocks/pebbles are not completely covered...allowing the bees to land dryly and gather water
 
John Polk
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Try not to put it too close to their hive.
Bees will not collect pollen from the immediate area around their hive, as they use this area for 'cleansing flights'. (They don't shit inside their hive.) I would guess that 20-25 feet (6-8 metres) would be fine.

 
Cj Sloane
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Blythe Barbo
Posts: 40
Location: Sequim, WA USA - zone 8b
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In our area, we quickly shift from wet cold spring to very dry summer (avg 17" rain/year, mostly in winter-spring), so providing water can be critical. I have several watering holes for the bees (and birds) scattered throughout the garden. We catch the rain off our metal barn roof into two 250-gallon tanks - the overflow from these tanks is piped into a couple of small ponds - one is hand-dug and is a home for goldfish, and the overflow from that goes into an area with an assortment of water-loving plants and shrubs. The wasps seem to prefer this one. The other tank overflows into a kiddie pool I sunk into the ground where I have planted some basketry willows, which take up the overflow - and I am working on channeling some of that into a second pond (where I have more willows). I placed several sticks in the pool for the bees to stand on; in the early spring, I usually have to go out there daily and rescue beetles. As the weather warms, the duckweed takes over, and the bees really like standing on that while they drink. In addition, I built a spiral garden near the hives in which I planted mostly chives and thymes, which the bees love. At the top of the spiral, I placed an old PUD insulator disk. It is glass and has a series of circles in it in which I placed polished beach rocks (great use for some of my rocks!). This one I water by hand, so I have to keep on top of it. I notice the bees hang out at the watering holes a lot in the spring, usually in the late afternoon. When the nectar starts flowing, I don't see them there as much. They are popular places again in the hotter, dryer part of the summer. Lots of creative things you can do to provide water! Here are a couple of pictures of the spiral.
spiral-watering-hole.jpg
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watering-hole2-2.jpg
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watering-hole-closeup.jpg
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Jocelyn Campbell
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Location: Missoula, MT
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Awesome pics, Blythe!

I've been a bit intimidated by Jacqueline's set up, but today, I decided who cares if I don't have all the things 'just so.'

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Today's bee waterer - set up in less than 5 minutes.

Some day hope to replace the plastic with something better, though after fishing a drowning bee out of a bucket, I figured something is better than nothing!




Paul would also like something on a stand to keep furry varmits out of it, though I'm sure we'll get there at some point.
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I use a cement bird bath filled with pea gravel at various depths for my bees. After readings John's post, I think mine is too close to the hive.
 
Blythe Barbo
Posts: 40
Location: Sequim, WA USA - zone 8b
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:"who cares if I don't have all the things 'just so.'"

Exactly! The bees certainly don't care! As an update to my earlier post, the spiral garden with the salvaged PUD disk is completely covered with the thyme - and in full bloom, it is just covered with the bees! I can't see whether the bees are taking advantage of the water, but it's there for them. The bees loved the kiddie-pool waterer with all the duckweed earlier in the spring; now I don't see them there as much. It is in a rather shaded area beneath the willows. On the goldfish pond, though, I see them every day. I placed some moss over the rocks surrounding the pond. The moss droops into the water and acts like a sponge. The bees are all over it. Wasps come and go. Nobody seems to care. Another favorite place I see them in mid-afternoon is in some old 4-inch pots that I have in a tray; many have cuttings that I'm waiting to take hold, so I optimistically water them, but they don't look like they will make it ... and then I started noticing the bees on the surface - sometimes 6 or more at a time in one pot! I was thinking they must be getting minerals from the soil, because they prefer the old pots over any of the fresh water sources that I provide. They also like the water that drains out from the bottom. Go figure!
 
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