It’s no secret that bees are declining at an alarmingly fast rate, putting global food security at risk. These pollinators are essential for biodiversity and fruit and vegetable production, which feeds humans and animals alike.
Pesticides, mites, lack of wildflowers, and other factors have severely diminished bee populations worldwide. You might not be a fan of the beehive on your property but setting up a bee waterer is a simple way to make a big impact in saving the bees.
How to Help the Bees
Many of us set up a bee-friendly garden and avoid pesticides on our properties. You may even have a bee hive in your yard. But there are plenty of other ways to supports bees too! One of the easiest ways is to set up a water drinking station for your bees to hydrate.
Bees have trouble getting enough water from stream or puddles because of predators (such as birds, toads, spiders, and some reptiles) and when they do get close to water, they risk drowning. Bird baths aren’t suitable either because of their depth and the predatory bird they attract. On dry days, bees don’t even have access to droplets of dew on the flowers they visit. Other water sources, such as pools and fountains are typically contaminated with chlorine and other chemicals.
Bees need water to cool their hive in the summer, regulate hive humidity, and decrystalize honey in the winter. On average, a colony needs roughly one liter of water a day. Additionally, nurse bees need water to produce food for the larvae. Since bees don’t store water, they need to retrieve it daily. On an individual level, bees need water to digest and metabolize food (2).
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That’s why making your own bee waterer is a great option to help your local bee population.
How to Make a Bee Waterer
Set up this bee waterer outside, near a flowering garden in the shade. If possible, keep it sheltered from the rain to make sure it doesn’t overflow.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Rocks (large and small)
- A large shallow bowl
- Clean, filtered water
- Have your kids collect rocks from outside, making sure to get rocks in varying sizes. You can also use glass marbles.
- Soak the rocks/marbles in a half-half vinegar and hot water mixture overnight.
- Rinse well and dry. Place the rocks/marbles in a wide shallow bowl or plant saucer. Make sure to have enough of them so that they fit snuggly and don’t move around. They will provide spots for bees to stand and reach the water.
- Fill the bowl/saucer halfway with water so that the rocks/marbles are partially submerged.
- Place in a spot close to your garden, flowering plants, or bee hive.
- Check the water garden daily to make sure the water levels are adequate and clean the rocks and bowl 1-2 times a week by soaking everything in the vinegar solution overnight, rinsing, and drying. This will also keep mosquitoes away.
You can also get creative and add moss, flowers, shells, and other decorative pieces to make your bee waterer really unique, like the station in the video below: