Supplying Bees with Water

    Since honey bees do not store water as they do pollen and honey, a continuous water supply is important to the proper functioning of the honey bee colony. Water is used to liquefy granulated honey and to dilute honey and sugar syrup for feeding to larvae. Without sufficient water, brood rearing is curtailed.

    Bees collect water every day and generally visit the nearest source for their supply. They may become a nuisance around stock watering troughs, outdoor faucets and swimming pools if water cannot be found closer to the hive. If water can be found nearby, then less energy is expended by the colony and more foraging time is available for nectar and pollen collection. In the winter, the need for water is diminished, and bees use condensed water gathered on the inner sides and top of the hive.

     Natural water sources such as clean puddles, ditches, small ponds and streams are all suitable. If no such source is nearby, drums or smaller containers may be placed in the bee yard and filled with water and flotation devices such as sticks, boards and dried twigs for the bees to land on. Alternative devices include corrugated iron or plastic sheets sloped into a gutter or trough to collect rain water, or a cistern to collect rain water from the roof of an adjacent building. Syrup feeders can be used to keep a continual supply of water in each colony if desired. 

  •  This information was taken from: ‘Beekeeping in Western Canada 1998.’