Make A Bee Waterer And Help Hydrate Our Pollinators

A single bee tends to at least 2,000 flowers daily, with their tiny wings beating 10,000 times per minute, carrying pollen, and dramatically assisting our food supply. All that work makes the bees thirsty, especially on a hot day.

20091127bee2Bees need access to safe water sources, they often risk drowning in birdbaths or being eaten at rivers and lakes among birds, fish, frogs and other wildlife. This is why they often fly around our clothes lines and may even land on us if we are in an outdoor pool on a hot day.

Kim Flottum, editor of the Bee Culture magazine, writes in her book The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden: “Water is used to dissolve crystallized honey, to dilute honey when producing larval food, for evaporation cooling during warm weather, and for a cool drink on a hot day.”

“Bees know exactly where to return for the same water source. Foragers seem to seek water sources that are scented,” Flottum says.

One solution to this problem is to add marbles or pebbles to a bowl or pan and then add water. The marbles give the bees a spot to land so they don’t drown when they come to drink.


  • Jaya F

    I put a little solar water fountain in the yard, made from a ceramic plant pot, but softened the spray by having pebbles in the fountain, and over the sprayer. I made it so that the water runs gently over a few pebbles, the bees can land, no mosquito larvae because of the movement, the water stays fresh by oxygenation, no algae, and top up every few days if no rain.

  • Idabella Schroeder

    This is good, i learned something.

  • Suzy Hayes

    I fill with fresh H2O each day to pollinator, butterfly & bird baths. It’s an enjoyable start to each day.

  • In Texas we call that a Mosquito nesting hatchery

  • Bruce

    A slanted mesh that went from the bottom edge of a container at one side up to the top at the other side would act like a shoreline in the tides, in that, no matter what the water level was, there would be a section of mesh somewhere that was at or just above the water. Just like no matter what the ocean level is, there is some beach that is right at that level, because the beach, too, is slanted.

  • Dan the Man

    The only prob is that you leave water out and get mosquitoes.

  • PhilJacquiEvans

    Can you use water pearls? The type you see in decorative planters.

  • BG

    thank you for this info!

  • Windymac

    This is ridiculous. Are you going to sit there all day maintaining the exact water level needed for this to work?

    • Ingrid Courtney

      <<< scratching her head wondering how the bees survived for centuries on end without humans supplying safe water sources. Instead of wondering how to safely give them water to drink, figure out how to save them from the infinite number of things humans created that are now wiping them out and threatening their extinction, thereby guaranteeing our own.

      • Don McCarron


        • Andrew Merrett


      • Judy McKendry Adams

        Providing them a source of CLEAN water, in areas where there is no other clean water, only puddles of water fouled by chemicals, is better than nothing. And certainly better than criticizing kind people who want to help in some way.

      • Kiwi – Cool story, bro

        OH! So you, like everyone else reading this article is a research scientist with hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money to research ways to save the bees! This must be kismet! Oh, no? No you don’t and aren’t? Then kindly shut up.

        • James

          You do realize that scientists are humans right? And that you don’t need hundreds of thousands, thousands, or even hundreds, to come up with a way to water bees. Do you really need a scientist to tell you how to think and what to do? Did a scientist tell you to reply saying that? I suppose you’re in the field of thought that would give grant money to scientists to study if men like porn, if cats always land on their feet or not, or perhaps the one pondering a correlation between alcohol consumption and unprotected sex. All real studies that scientists were given tons of money to conduct. But arguably useless, because “regular people” could easily figure out the answer to those questions. Just like this.

          • Andrew Merrett

            Shut up James, Jimmy Chin Jimmy Chin, stupid stain on humanity. Go take your trolling shit somewhere else.

      • Andrew Merrett

        Why can’t you do both? What a moronic reply to an even more moronic, negative comment from “Speaks Wind Mac”.

        “Hey, should I provide some fresh water for the bees in my garden, or should I not bother and take on the whole of humankind, changes in farming, mobile phone cell towers…”

        Keep that paper bag on your head, WindFarm – or better still change it for plastic.

        as for Ingrid Curtney – did you come to this article just to post a stupid reply to an idiot?

  • Deborah SG

    Do we add sugar to the water?

    • Nicola Jan Smith

      No, not necessary as they are getting better nutrients from the flowers

  • Kyuuna Zaraki

    wouldn’t stuff like the orange cube used by lizard owners to keep crickets alive also work? the stuff has hydration and nutrients in it so the bees would get double the help I’d think.

  • Shiraz

    Thank you for this article. Yes bees need water to drink and as they are not very good swimmers, often drown in the birdbath. Providing a supply of safe drinking water for them is essential. I keep Bees and when ever I have a drink of wine, I think of my ladies (worker bees are all female) and save the cork for them. Now I have several beautiful containers round the garden and all filled up with water. As corks float, I can put a good quantity of water in the containers and they are always safe for my ladies to land and take a drink. So having done a days hard work, it is always a pleasure to have a glass of wine, and say cheers to my ladies.

    You are welcome to follow our Bee Keeping as part of a community initiative project in Leicester (UK) in Facebook: “Bee BFG – Stoneygate Gardens”. Please do give us a visit and like us to support promoting Good Healthy Living Environment for Bees, Butterflies, Flowers, Gardens, and people.

    • Ottavia Zeffilini

      Water for bees is sounding like an ad for your honey.

  • AMH4

    I am a beekeeper who regularly uses a birdbath with rocks in it for our bees to water. We usually put lots of large and small rocks in the water to allow for the bees to have a landing platform and not drown. I really like the idea of netting with corks holding it up to keep it afloat, though. I’m always worrying that they’ll drown in the other water! The netting would definitely prohibit that from happening! Thanks for the idea!

  • Sarah Roberts

    I saw something like this on Facebook but it had different levels for the bees to use.

    • Donita Victoria Brown

      Couldn’t you basically do the same thing with an empty egg carton, seems like it would be similar to the Hydro Hive.

      • Sarah Roberts

        Hm, I hadn’t thought of using an egg carton. Do you mean the Styrofoam ones? I imagine the cardboard ones would become soggy. Styrofoam would float in the water so it would need to be anchored but is a good idea. I liked the hydro hive idea because they were made of a hard material, similar to the stone birdbaths, so it could be a decoration and be durable through the weather.

        • Donita Victoria Brown

          Yes I saw those, and I guess if you can afford it, and have space for it, it would be nice. However, for those that can’t afford or maybe just have a small balcony or even just a wide window sill they could weigh down the Styrofoam egg carton bottom with some stones, fill the holes with water and the bees could stand the the “points” to drink. Just an idea! 😀

        • Montanabear

          Bees will eat Styrofoam and die. So, it is better to use the cardboard egg cartons and replace them when they melt.

  • Tiffany Adele Scott

    would this not also attract mosquitos? I would love to help the bees, but we live in a location that heavily attracts mosquitos, especially since behind our backyard fence is a standing creek. thoughts anyone??

    • AMH4

      Mosquitoes will lay eggs in water – yes. But usually, they like water that is flavoured with Earth smells. If you change the water in the bee waterer regularly, there is less chance of attracting mosquitoes.

    • Sheila Dunning

      Make a garden that repels mosquitoes, but will be safe haven for the bees to come get a drink. Catnip works for repelling mosquitoes, also citronella works wonders to repel mosquitoes.

    • Jay Rudin

      I just made one with Dollar Tree marbles and a Dollar Tree heart shaped glass dish. I had the same concern about mosquitos and we have lots here Tiffany. I’ll let you know if I have a problem with mine. Putting it out tomorrow!

    • Michael Lemberger

      Mosquitos require at least 5 days to go from egg to adult, and unless it’s blazing hot, more like a week. Change the water every couple of days and you’ll be in the clear. Your creek is a waaay bigger issue.

    • Margaret

      The bees are very likely getting all the water they need from the creek behind your fence.

  • Lynne

    Is there a way to make the water scented without harming the bees?

    • audrart

      Lemon balm! Get a fresh lemon balm plant. You can put it by the water and take one leaf, lightly crush it and place it in the water under the marbles, sponge or rocks. This will give it a very light lemon scent. Mosquitoes don’t like it, bee’s do!

      • GeoBarbara

        Not to mention that, if you plant one lemon balm plant, it will soon take over your yard. I work hard to keep my patch contained and am always looking for uses for it. Thanks!

      • Carolyn

        That’s awesome. Will it repelled them if growing in garden too?

        • audrart

          It does, but you need a few plants to “bee” effective. 🙂

  • lizsalander

    I just use a bucket with sponge floats in it; the sponge constantly takes up the water, while providing a safe place for the bees to rest while drinking. I top off the bucket when ever needed.

    • Jacqui Dicks

      Fab idea, thanks for that!

    • Pamela Sue

      I think I’ll try this. Thanks!

    • Carolyn


  • Anonymous

    Wow, this piece of writing is pleasant, my younger sister is
    analyzing these kinds of things, therefore I am going
    to inform her.

  • r1b2

    The problem with this method is you continuously need to maintain the precise water level. I have hives on my Brooklyn NY rooftop and I came up with my own method. I cut a round piece of plastic mesh, like that used for sheetrocking. I stapled a bunch of wine corks to it so it floats. I then fill an inexpensive plastic bucket with water and float the corks so the mesh rests on the surface. The bees have a safe place to alight while they drink, and the mesh rises and lowers with the water level. When it rains, the water level goes up, along with the mesh. When there’s less rain, the mesh lowers. I simply check it when I am on the roof doing hive inspections and can top it off (I ran a hose up to the roof, so that parts easy, too.)

    • Diane Joy

      Yours is a much better idea. I like the marble idea but if the marble container falls over, you have marbles everywhere. Thanks.

      • Richard Darr

        Yes and my wife said that I lost my marbles. We need to help bees and other necessary

    • AnnaZed

      You are a genius!

    • Mary Sedici

      Great to see people care!!!!

    • laura schalk

      amazing! I would buy this if you marketed it!

    • FNicole Brewer-Sharits

      Id love to see a photo of it. Thats a good idea.

    • sequence

      That is how I going to use my wine corks! Brilliant idea! Thank you! You should market it to gardeners on their web sites.

    • SugarRush

      So how many bottles of wine should I drink to accomplish this project? Who said crafts are for girls ;-))

    • Sharon Connolly

      Like this idea. I wonder if I floated something like this in the horses water tub the bees would use it?

      • reasonablequestion

        Bees might still drown in the horse size water tank (plus I don’t think you want bees around the horse’s water. Might discourage your horses from drinking, and they might get stung) Seems best, and easy enough to have a separate bee watering container, safe for bees, safe for horses.

      • Carolyn

        You can buy some designed for swimming pools and big troughs. They are a bit more substantial so horses won’t accidentally push them under

    • Is the mesh sufficient to keep out mosquito larvae?

      • Byard Pidgeon

        Not that coarse mesh, but marbles wouldn’t do it, either. Check it daily, dump it when you see any wrigglers.

      • r1b2

        You should be changing the water every week to eliminate risk of larva and algae.

      • Diane Klingbile Pepin

        you can also put in a few gold fish, they will live on the bug larvae. you may want to make a watering area bigger then a pail, if you put in a few gold fish. But it is pretty effective, my rain barrel never has any larvae.

        • KarenL

          If you’re going with the fish angle… how about going all koy pond and lily pads? :>

    • Rampant

      I LOVE this idea! My only problem is that I have a pool…I don’t know if they’d find the floatie-cork-mesh in the midst of all that water, even if I have a nice-sized float for them. Still, worth a try to see how often I rescue water-logged bees. 🙂

    • Genevieve Snow

      hah i live in Brooklyn too and am going to use this!

    • SoCal Moron

      Thank you for caring about the bees. I have always been afraid of them as I had an allergic reaction to a sting as a child. However, it is great concern to me about their dwindling numbers. Thank you. I will try your tip for my flower garden.

    • Andrea Renee

      This is absolutely amazing you should do a step by step with photos:) I love this!

    • Hey, Sherlock, could you ask Joan where she gets all those cool clothes?

    • Rose Patterson

      Can you send me a picture so I can see what it looks like.

      • Ki Busch

        I also would like to see a pic of this net w corks

    • Carolyn

      This is fantastic, I have small children so I don’t marbles around