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An ancient marine tea service for thirsty bees

Tim Gabbert, a second year beekeeper from Williamsburg, Virginia, noticed honey bees congregating at one of his birdbaths and wondered how to keep the bees from drowning. His solution? Ancient seashells perforated with worm holes. He writes:

I live in area rich with ancient ocean sea shells that are constantly being pulled from the cliffs of the rivers by frequent storms. These shells, being riddled with marine worm holes, looked to be the perfect bee watering device. So I placed a few large scallop shells in the bird baths. The bees adapted quickly to them. Sometimes as many as 50 bees will be sitting on these shells casually sipping water that is drawn up and available in the tiny marine worm cavities.

Tim explains that both the James River and the York River are nearby. He says they are constantly fossil hunting on the cliff banks of these rivers because the banks were once the ocean floor, only 10,000 years ago. Shells, he says, are everywhere.

To me, this is a perfect solution. I love the juxtaposition of the old with the new, and of the sea and the land. Nature, in its various forms, serving nature is a beautiful sight. Plus there are added benefits. Tim says, “The bees are extremely happy with this set up. I sit by them, enjoy a glass of wine, and listen to their sounds as they come and go!”

Thanks, Tim, for sharing a clever idea.

Rusty
Honey Bee Suite

A seashell waterer for thirsty bees made of ancient seashells.
The ancient shells pulled from a cliff contain worm borings that soak up the water and make a safe watering hole for thirsty bees. © Tim Gabbert.

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Comments

Donald
Reply

Awesome and beautiful idea. Over the years I’ve collected quite a few of these shells . . . what an incredible way to show them off, and help my little ladies at the same time. 🤙🏼

frances I Moore
Reply

I use several different things and a bird bath is one of the things I use to water the bees. I put rocks in mine they make out great.

IAN
Reply

I have also seen people use small sponges, but as with anything you need to constantly keep the water supply adequate.

Jeff, bottom of NZ
Reply

Possibly adding trace elements to the water as well, calcium and or lime spring to mind.

Nancy Ogg
Reply

A good deal more than 10,000 years: more like 3 to 5 million.
http://geology.blogs.wm.edu/coastal-plain/
Our porous, fossil-filled Ordovician limestones, 400 to 300 million years old, also make good watering devices, placed in a shallow terra-cotta nursery tray which also cools the water.
Nancy
Corinth, KY

peter
Reply

I use rocks that stick out of the water. The rocks offer a safe place for the bees and the birds can still bathe and drink as well.

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