Water Gathering by Tamsin Harris

Water Gathering by Tamsin Harris

When Rain Is not Enough!

Even between showers bees are out foraging for water. From later winter right the way through until the nectar starts flowing in earnest, the water gatherers are braving the elements to get the vital ingredient needed to rehydrate  their winter stores.

Any ivy honey that is stored within the hive has set rock solid and needs plenty of moisture added to it to make it a useable food source for the growing colony.

Over the years I have noticed that there are one or two sites in my garden that are the favourite spots for the water gatherers.  I like to give them a helping hand as the journey back to the hive with a honey crop full of cold water is not without its perils. A drop in the air temperature by one or two degrees can mean the difference between making it back with the essential water load or not.

A shallow, dark tray of water with plenty of garden debris floating in it will warm up more quickly and provide the bees with a raft from which to rest on while they suck up the water. They seem to be drawn to muddy puddles, moss and damp leaf mould that provide minerals and trace elements rather than clean, cold water in a deep bucket that they will most likely drown in.

I  position the trays about 10m from the apiary in a spot that gets any available sun for as long as possible throughout the day. Too close to the hive and they will ignore it as it may well be contaminated with the products of their cleansing flights!

Don't forget to regularly top up the watering trays, wind and sun will evaporate the moisture very quicky.

Why not send in any photos of your bees favourite watering holes and we may well post them on our site.

No doubt later in the year we will be glad of water - even if it is only pictures of bees sucking it up!!

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