Creating a water source for your bees

Water bee

Bees like the flat top on my fountain. It gives them a place to land without getting anything other than their feet wet.

The weather is going to kick it up a couple notches this weekend. And you need to protect your bees.

With temperatures expected to be over 100 degrees, bees need water. They will most likely find it. But its best they find from a source you’ve created than from your neighbor’s pool, hot tub or equally inappropriate spot.


Leaky sprinklers provide an excellent source of water, too.

All you need to create a water source is a relatively clean source of water and support for the bees so they don’t have to land in the water. Support is crucial, or you’ll have lots of dead bees. 

There’s some disagreement on how far away from the hive to locate your water sources. Some say to locate it as close as possible. Others say to locate it at least 30 feet away.

I’ve had much better luck locating it further away. My bees didn’t touch a birdbath located next to their hives or after I moved it about 20 feet away.

They loved my hot tub, which was a disaster. They found an opening in the cover, but couldn’t get out. That made for a lot of dead bees. They found my neighbor’s hot tub about the same time with the same results. In that case, we had to completely close off access to create a new source.


Don’t forget to fill your water source regularly. Or equip it with an automatic filler, such as this one.

Some say the minerals in pool and hot tub water attract bees to those sources. I read once that making minerals available bees is one way to attract them.  

I’ve got a couple of salt licks in my pasture. The bees are all over them when they are covered with dew early in the morning. I wouldn’t put mineral salt in my created water source, though.

Speaking of creating a water source, it doesn’t have to be creative. I’ve got two birdbaths, two leaking sprinklers and one fountain.

The birdbaths are filled with rocks. But some people get creative with shells, sphagnum moss, bright baubles. And not only with bird baths.

A member of Portland Urban Beekeepers uses a bathtub that is pretty tricked out.


If you want to rejuvenate, grab an old piece of equipment and put it back to work.

Sphagnum moss, which you can get at most garden centers, is good because it wicks up water. The bees can land on it and suck up the water from the moss.

Some people use burlap instead of moss. Seems like it would decay and mold easily. Moss was born wet.

The main point is to provide relatively fresh water and landing spots for them.

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