How to Give Water to Bees | Safe and Easy

To give bees safe water to drink provide a shallow container with a rock or twigs to allow bees to safely crawl out. Place rock in a birdbath or saucer so the bees can drink standing up and avoid drowning. Soaker hoses or damp mulch also provide safe and easy ways to give water to bees.

Here are the best ways to provide water for bees:

  • Shallow bird baths with rocks
  • Shallow pot saucers or trays that have a rough surface to make climbing out easier
  • Soaker hoses or damp mulch after watering your garden

How to leave water out for bees

Bees need to drink water, especially over the warmer months. They will need to find a water source to drink from to keep them healthy.  If you want to support your local bee colonies, leaving out water can be a great idea in a shallow dish, with a rock in the middle can give them a safe way to drink without the risk of drowning.

A shallow saucer with a rough rock makes a great bee drinking station

Once the bees find a source of water, they can remember where it is and can tell their bee friends about it. They will perform the “waggle dance” to show their hive-mates where to find it. Once the bees know about water in your garden, they will often return to drink. Providing a shallow water source for them to access is a great way to attract more bees to your garden to pollinate your fruit and vegetable garden.

Bees can travel long distances to find water so providing some extra in your backyard is a great way to help them out. Try using a bird bath or shallow dish outside with a rock in it.  This will help the bees to climb out if they accidentally fall into the dish.

How often bees drink water

Bees will need more water in warmer weather and more if they are flying great distances. Bees can drink their weight in water each day. Bees are only tiny, and weigh 1 tenth of a gram. Worker bees can carry up to half their weight in nectar and honey back to the hive. They can fly up to around 3 miles and can visit as many as 100 flowers in one trip.

This makes for thirsty work, so if each bee drinks 1 gram of water per day, and there are up to 50,000 bees in a hive, this would be 50,000 grams or milliliters of water per day. This is equal to 50 liters or around 13 gallons of water for the whole hive. Bees will access water from different sources but a small dish in your backyard can help out some thirsty bees.

Do bees get thirsty?

Insects need water to keep them healthy and many will get their water by munching on leaves. The nectar and pollen that the bees feed on however does not contain much water.  Bees are hard workers and fly great distances to collect the nectar and pollen for their hives. Although we can’t know for sure if bees feel thirst in the same way that we do, they certainly seek out water when their body needs it.  In warmer weather, they will need to drink more water to support them in their work.

How bees drink water

Bees drink water standing up which is why it is so important that they can have a shallow access to any water you are giving them.  They will need somewhere to stand when they drink so adding a stone to any shallow water source is important so they can climb out if they accidentally fall in.

How to provide water to bees without the drowning risk

Bees are great at sucking up water from damp areas. I always find that after I have watered my lawn or fruit trees, bees will come around and drink the water droplets sitting on the leaves or stems. This is a great way for passing bees to get a drink from your garden as they travel through. Just be careful if you have kids that they don’t walk on the wet lawn and accidentally step on one.

How to attract bees to water

Bees love water that contains nutrients, or we might see it as dirty water. They often love horse troughs, cow troughs, dirty puddles and water that sits on the ground. This helps them to get extra nutrients as they drink. If you really want bees in your garden, letting water sit in puddles can be a really tempting place for bees to drink.

Letting saucers in the bottom of pots get a little dirty can also be really attractive to bees.  It may take some time for bees to find the water in your garden, but over time they will come and visit. Planting flowers that bees love in your garden is also a great way to bring more bees to your water source. Planting bright, fragrant flowers like Star Jasmine, butterfly bush and daisies are a great food source for bees and they can drink water while they are there.

How to give water to bees – Summary

Providing a safe water source for bees is a great idea, that way bees can visit your garden for both food and water to support their colony. Make sure they can easily crawl out and stand to prevent a bee from accidentally drowning.

Bees are really important pollinators in vegetable gardens and for fruit. If you have fruit trees in your garden you will definitely want to attract bees to help pollenate the flowers to form the fruit.   

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