Like all living things, bees need water to survive. Without clean water, your hive will quickly perish. When you are starting your hive and deciding the best location for it, you should think about the nearby water sources that are available for your bees. Make sure that there is fresh water nearby. If there isn’t, your bees will travel far to find it, and they might end up drinking dirty or polluted water.
Bees will travel up to five miles to find water. However, this does not mean that any hive within five miles of a water source is good to go! You should provide water for your bees that is much closer than five miles away. It is a good idea to keep a water source within one mile of the hive, and closer is always better!
If your worker bees have to regularly travel a long distance just to collect water, they will tire themselves out before they have collected much nectar. The harder bees work, the faster they die. By positioning a hive far away from water, you will shorten your worker bees’ life spans. They will also be forced to use time that could be used collecting nectar on fetching water. This will have a negative impact on honey production. By giving your bees easy access to water, you give your hive the chance to thrive.
All of that being said, sometimes you have no choice but to place your bees far away from a major water source. If you live in a residential area with no nearby bodies of water, put a container of water near your hive. Depending on the size of the container, you will need to regularly refill it. This way, you can ensure that your bees are supplied with fresh water at all times. This will prevent them from flying far away to find a drink.
How To Attract Bees To A Water Source
Bees need lots of water. Every day, a bee can drink its body weight in water. For a healthy-sized hive, that adds up to two or three gallons of water every day! Making sure that your bees have enough water is very important. When there are several different water sources available to them, you will probably want to direct them to the cleanest, healthiest one.
Give Them A Place To Stand
To attract bees to a water source, make sure it is close to their hive. Put the water in a container that allows the bees to drink without falling into the water. Bees like to keep their feet dry when they drink! You can purchase specially made bee watering troughs, which feature plastic areas where bees can perch while they drink.
For a more DIY approach, you can add a floating object like a piece of styrofoam to a bucket of water. This gives the bees something to rest on while they drink. Giving them nothing but an open bucket of deep water is a bad idea; it could cause them to drown, and the water might also turn into a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests.
Use Salt or Sugar
If your bees already have a watering source that they are accustomed to visiting, it might take them a while to reorient to a new one. To speed up this process, you can add salt or sugar to the new water source. These will attract bees and encourage them to start visiting the new source.
Keep Bees Away From Pools
If you live in an area with swimming pools, you might find that your bees are attracted to nearby pools. This can be a nuisance for swimmers, and it is better for bees to drink clean, filtered water than it is for them to drink chlorinated pool water. To keep your bees out of pools, provide them with a water source closer to their hive than the pool is. Take floating devices and other toys out of the pool to prevent your bees from landing on them and using them as a place to stand while they drink. Keeping your bees away from pools will also prevent them from drowning.
How Close Do Bees Need To Be To Water?
Since bees will travel about five miles for water, they can technically survive as long as there is a water source within a five-mile radius. But, as mentioned above, this is not a comfortable existence! You should provide them with water that is much closer to home.
It is best to have a water source that is no more than one mile from your hive. The closer the water source is the happier your bees will be. Consider this when you are first choosing a spot for your hive. Position the hive by a pond, lake, or other small body of water. If this isn’t possible, provide your bees with a container of water, as described above.
Bees are clever, and they will find the nearest water source and use that. If there’s a water source you want them to avoid, you just have to add an additional source closer to their hive, and they will reorient to that one.
Should I Have Salt Water For Honeybees?
Bees are known for loving sweet things and setting out sugar water for your bees is a great way to give them a re-energizing treat. But bees don’t just love sweet things; they are also fond of salt water!
You should provide your bees with access to some salt water, but make sure it is very diluted. Mix a small amount of table salt with water and set it out for your bees. If you put it in a bucket, make sure that you add a piece of styrofoam or something else that your bees can rest on.
It’s not healthy for bees to have too much salt. They shouldn’t be regularly consuming salt straight from a salt lick, for example. This can lower their life expectancy. Bees are fond of salt solutions, and in small amounts the salt provides important nutrients to the bees. While bees use nectar and water to build their hive and create honey, they use salt for their own health. They like it so much that they sometimes show a preference for dirty, mineral-rich water in ponds and puddles over clean, mineral-free filtered water. And if there is a saltwater pool nearby, they will definitely frequent it!
Bees need a reliable water source to keep them alive. Make sure that they don’t have to travel too far to find water by setting up a source close to their hive. This way, you know where they are getting their water from, and you can make sure that it is safe, chemical-free, and always available. Your water source can be as extravagant as a decorative pond or as simple as a bucket filled with water. Your bees aren’t picky – as long as you’re providing them with something to drink during their busy day, they’ll be thankful!