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Providing water for bees and insects



A single bee tends to at least 2,000 flowers daily, with their tiny wings beating 10,000 times per minute, carrying pollen, and dramatically assisting our food supply. All that work makes the bees thirsty, especially on a hot day.

need access to safe water sources, they often risk drowning in birdbaths or being eaten at rivers and lakes among birds, fish, frogs and other wildlife. This is why they often fly around our clothes lines and may even land on us if we are in an outdoor pool on a hot day.

Kim Flottum, editor of the Bee Culture magazine, writes in her book The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden: “Water is used to dissolve crystallized honey, to dilute honey when producing larval food, for evaporation cooling during warm weather, and for a cool drink on a hot day.”

“Bees know exactly where to return for the same water source. Foragers seem to seek water sources that are scented,” Flottum says.

One solution to this problem is to add marbles or pebbles to a bowl or pan and then add water. The marbles give the bees a spot to land so they don’t drown when they come to drink.

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  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,838

    I had no idea that bees needed water until I saw them on an old growbag sucking up water from the damp compost. The growbag was on a tray which held rainwater and kept the contents moist. After seeing this I leave an old growbag in a tray for them every year and keep it topped up with water. 

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    An old dog bowl with a mix of pebbles and stones and water just below the pebbles does it for me. I sit and watch the insects of all sizes quench their thirst.


  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,316

    Thanks for the tip, JimmyC, Steephill & Frank.  I'll arrange an insect drinking bowl as suggested.  image

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • AlieshAliesh Posts: 179

    Hi love to help bees i grow lots of bee friendly flowers. Had odd bees already in the garden recently.

    I have a plant saucer with just one stone in but i will now add more pebbles

    How often should i change the water ?


  • StagbeetleStagbeetle Posts: 174

    Thank you for this tip, I'll get a small tub sorted for them.

  • I'd just give it a rinse out once a week or so, I doubt the bees will mind much.


  • LesleyKLesleyK Posts: 4,029

    Thanks for the tipimage.  I will sort out a bee friendly drinking hole asapimage

  • DorsetUKDorsetUK Posts: 441

    I turn the lid of my water butt upside down which gives a shallow basin.  It already has a central raised bit and a handful of gravel added is perfect for the bees and there's a  handy water supply as well as it is all round the other side of the building from any tap

  • Very interesting. I never thought about Bees needing water although I do have a large plant saucer with some water and stones in it in the garden already.

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