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A water feature for the bees

What every bee needs is a good watering hole, and the bees at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture in Corvallis, Oregon have the fanciest one I’ve seen.

Water comes in through a drip irrigation-type system. The hose from the source runs up the side of the structure and through the middle of the piece of bamboo that stretches across the width. Holes are drilled through the top side of the bamboo pole and drip emitters are placed at regular intervals. I don’t remember how many there were, but it seems like it was about six.

The water seeps from the emitters and drips from the bamboo into a trough that is filled with mossy plants. You can see them looking rather yellow in the photo, but this was taken just coming out of winter when moss often looks like that.

Overflow from the moss drips down the sides of the rocks, which remain wet throughout the summer. A bed of rocks below the structure acts as a drain for the rest of the water.

Bees have many options. They can take water straight from the emitters, from the moss, from the rocks, or from the ground underneath. Honey bees, native bees, and a variety of other pollinators can meet here for refreshment and conversation.

If you already have a drip system in your garden or yard, it would be easy to add a water feature. It wouldn’t need to be nearly so big, of course. This one is huge, but I can imagine building something similar maybe two feet tall and three feet wide, depending on how many hives you have. If any of you try this, please let me know. I’d love to see what you build.

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

A bee watering device at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture.
A bee watering device at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture.

Comments

ScoobyDoBee
Reply

That’s awesome!

Michelle
Reply

Speaking of water, I just moved bees into my new backyard that has a pool. I am worried about the chlorinated water ultimately being a problem. What do you think/know? And would it be advisable to put an alternate fresh water source close to the hive to keep them out of the pool? If you’ve already addressed this feel free to point me to that blog.

Rusty
Reply

Hi Michelle,

Yup, they may be attracted to the scent of chlorine. The chlorine won’t hurt them because they drink so little, but the bees can intimidate people in the pool. The post to read is “Love that dirty water.” It will give you some ideas for setting up an alternative source.

Richard Christensen
Reply

Is there a plan for constructing ” A water feature for bees”?
Thank you for what you are doing!!
It is very helpful in my quest to raise parisite free,
healthy, and happy bee’s.God bless,
Richard

Rusty
Reply

Richard,

There’s no plan for the one I photographed, but it wouldn’t be hard to make. I would definitely scale it down; this one is for a state university and it is huge.

Howard
Reply

For years I have used a small tub. The tub I use is a concrete mixing tub I bought at Home Depot. I cut up lengths of 2×4 or 2×3 boards that can float freely in the tub when filled with water. Each board I drill a bunch of holes in the boards so that when they float on the water, water can come up through the holes. I run my drip irrigation to the tube to maintain a good water level. The floating wood provides a place for the bees to land and the holes in the wood act like little wells.

Rusty
Reply

Howard,

Clever idea!

Richard Federation
Reply

It’s spring again and the bees will be busy again doing the bee thing. Well, I have a tip that I think you will all like for warm weather and water for your bees. I am one of the owners of nuisance wildlife removal company and we deal with bees a lot. One of our owners is a beekeeper and he uses a material called Cobra Ridge Vent. It kinda looks like a Scotch Bright pad made of a plastic material and, well, Cobra Vent material is like that but on steroids. Just cut a piece to fit the bottom of a shallow pan and add water the bees can’t drown and with all the large nooks and crannies available as the water level goes down the bees will have access to it without drowning.

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