Every beekeeper should consider where his or her bees go to collect water. Water, besides pollen and nectar, is one of the main substances bees collect and bring back to the hive. Water is added to nectar to help it being digested again and again until it becomes honey, and when that honey is being consumed. Water also helps bees regulate the temperature inside the hive.
Just as pesticide use on crops can cause devastation to a colony when bees gather from that source, contaminated water can transfer unwanted substances to the colony, its inhabitants and its products. So, if it is at all possible, be in control of the bees’ water source! It is almost impossible to control where bees gather pollen and nectar, but with water I have found that not to be a problem. The important thing is to install the water source at a closer distance than other sources, make sure there is always water in this location and equip that water source with stones or plants where bees can land to then safely gather.
Here are some ideas on how to provide this safe, permanent water source;
Anywhere you have a shallow water collection site, perhaps along a gentle slope along the edge, you can put down rocks to provide opportunities for bees to land and drink without falling into the water.
If you are looking to scale this down, perhaps you could put decorative glass stones or pebbles in a birdbath. Remember that a smaller water source will need to be refilled more often.
Waterlilies on ponds provide great perches for bees to drink from. In large ponds you can expect predators to be present that might be interested in insects such as honeybees.
Near my setup, the source of water my bees frequent is the water basin my father put up as a ‘theater’ for wildlife photography. The basin is dressed up with natural elements, and duckweeds volunteered there quite quickly.
Water is a vital part of the health of the hive and to the purity of the products we take from the hive. Take care to provide a reliable, qualitative source of water, we cannot rely on our neighbours to do this for us, but our efforts can play a part in healing our environment.