Saturday, April 10, 2010

Drinking Bees...

Bees like all creatures need water to survive. Water is consumed as part of their eating process, and also used to cool the hive in the summer (they regurgitate water and then evaporate it with their wings, thus cooling the hive).

As a beekeeper, you need to make sure there is a steady source of water for the bees. Putting hives near a natural source of water like a creek is best. I know a beekeeper who put a little decorative fountain right near his hives for the bees to drink. If you don't provide water, the bees will find it whether it's where you want them to or not. Many a beekeeper has been upset that the bees found water in their neighbor's swimming pool (much to the dismay of the neighbor).

So to prevent problems, I put up a bucket of water near the hive. You can see it here on the right of the picture:

In the bucket I put a lot of wood and sticks, as the bees need something to stand on in order to drink (bees have drowned in just a plain open water source). Last year I had a problem where my bees liked my neighbor's wood bucket and air conditioner condensation better!

Today the temperature was about 60, and I went out back to look at the hive. I was surprised at all the activity at my water bucket - there were dozens of bees drinking, and many coming and going. With the recent rains, the water is nice and "natural" (meaning kind of gross) - just like the bees like. Here's a video of the activity:

I also took some pictures, some closeups of the bees. Click them to see closer!


  1. I really appreciate this post. It was very informative! Who would have thought wood in the water would be more appealing to a bee! I checked out beekeeping for dummies today from the library. How much do you think your initial investment of two hives cost you?

  2. Hi Jo Jo, thanks for the kind words.
    Unfortunately, beekeeping is not a cheap hobby to get started in. Full beehives (with 2 deep, 2 supers, all frames) can cost around $200. The bees themselves cost $90. Then there's the bee suit, smoker, and other tools.

    If you can get a kit with all of the parts you may save some money. What I did was get stuff spread out over time so it wasn't a big chunk all at once.

    The good thing is that everything can be used multiple years. Assuming you get honey and can sell it, you can recoup some of your cost.

    The Dummies book is good. You ought to look into joining a bee club in your area. Even if you don't have bees, it's a good way to learn. Take a bee school if you can find one (it's a little late - most of them are finishing up).

    Good luck!


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