How to keep bees hydrated

by Hilary Kearney 2 min read

In the height of summer, when temperatures are soaring, it's important to remember that bees (and all wildlife) need access to safe drinking water.

Honey bees need water but may drown while trying to collect it. Keep bees from drowning in your pool or pet's water bowl by providing a safe place for them to drink.

What water for insects?

Pond Water

If given a choice, bees will always choose to drink “dirty” water. They appear to favour water that has become murky with algae. So, grant them their wish and set up a bee pond. It doesn’t have to be a big, fancy pond – create a simple water garden with half wine barrels or a similar container.

You just need a barrel, mosquito fish and some floating plants (like water lettuce or water hyacinth). Sometimes these types of ponds do better with a small amount of water circulation, like a small solar fountain. Once a pond is established, it can be very low maintenance.

Clean decaying organic matter from the bottom of the pond so the water is not robbed of its oxygen.

Trickling Fountain

No matter what type of water source you provide, make sure the water current isn’t too strong. Bees like trickling water because there is less of a drowning risk. I often see them hovering or even landing on fountains that have a gentle trickling function. Or fountains that drain into a rock-filled grate.

Bird Bath with Rocks

A simple way to give bees water is just to fill your bird bath with stones. If you already have a bird bath, you can make it attractive to bees by adding these additional landing areas.

You may find that you need two bird baths! One for the bees and one for the birds, because bees can sometimes deter birds from using that same bath.

The downside to bird baths is that they need to be refilled often.

Bucket Systems

Some beekeepers simply use buckets. Add a sponge in a bucket for a simple landing pad or hang a rag halfway in so the bees can take water directly from the rag, or float corks in the water. Any non-toxic floatation device will work!

Make sure you refill your bucket and check it often for mosquito larvae.


Thanks to Beekeeping Like a Girl, Hillary Kearney for permission to republish her blog. Hilary Kearney is a full-time beekeeper in her hometown of San Diego, California. Her business Girl Next Door Honey educates hundreds of new beekeepers each year. She is the author of the Beekeeping Like A Girl blog and maintains popular Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts. When she’s not rescuing bees, teaching about bees, photographing bees or managing one of her 60 colonies, she’s sleeping and dreaming of bees.


Also in Beekeeping Basics

Plant it and they will come
Plant it and they will come

by Flow Hive 4 min read

We speak with Lori Harris of Salt Creek Butterfly Farm in Western Springs, Illinois, about her work as a butterfly conservationist, educator and Flow Hive beekeeper. Lori's passionate about protecting pollinators and inspiring curiosity about nature in children and adults.
Read More
Paint it purple: the symbiotic relationship between a lavender farm and 40,000 bees
Paint it purple: the symbiotic relationship between a lavender farm and 40,000 bees

by Flow Hive 3 min read

We chat to lavender farmer and Flow Hive beekeeper Kirby Bivans from the Old School Farmstead in Wisconsin, about what led the Bivans family to embark on this colorful endeavour and how bees have become a vital part of their business.
Read More
How do bees make honey?
How do bees make honey?

by Flow Hive 2 min read

Read More