Honeybee in bird bath collecting water while on a tree bark.

How to lure bees away from you water fun

bee on bark on bird bath

Hi! This is  Adriana, the beekeeper from South Mountain Bees.

Let me tell you a bit about bees and water.

Bees need water. They use is for a variety of reasons, and in hot days, they use it to cool down the hive. It's their air conditioning: they fan their wings and evaporate the water to lower the temperature of the hive. Isn't that cool? (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun.)

But on hot Summer days, when we want to splash some water in the backyard, bees can become a nuisance. Even if you are unlikely to get stung, nobody wants to be in a bathing suit too close to stinging insects.

Something you need to know, is that bees are very faithful to their water source. So whatever they find first, it's going to be the place they go back to, even if other sources of water become available.

So here's what you can do so that bees find something else to do, while you enjoy your pool, sprinkler or any other backyard water fun.

It is very easy to do. All you need is

  1. A container of your choice. The size could be anything between a bird bath and a shallow salad bowl. It could be glass, plastic, concrete, clay, etc. anything that holds water will do.
  2. Water.
  3. A few rock, twigs, acorns, tree bark, dry leaves. It's really your choice. Whatever you have will do.
  4. A pinch of salt.
  5. A mosquito donut. You only need a quarter, and it will last you all mosquito season. 
  6. A few drops of lemon grass essential oil (completely optional).

Instructions: (No mystery here. it's really what you imagine!)

  1. Fill the container with your rocks, twigs, tree bark, etc.
  2. Dissolve about a teaspoon of salt in a gallon of water, if your container is small, a pinch of salt will do.
  3. Pour the water in the container. Make sure rocks or any other garden debris stick out of the water.
  4. Drop the mosquito donut quarter in the container where it touches the water.
  5. If you happen to have lemon grass essential oil, put a couple drops on any rock or bark that sticks out of the water.

Why garden debris such as rocks and twigs? Bees will drown even in a quarter inch of water. So the twigs and rocks offer a place to stand on. Often you see them on a wet piece of bark that even without visible standing water, it has enough for the bees.

Why salt? We don't really know why, but they seem to prefer salty water. If your neighbor has a salt water pool, you may want to make sure your water source is ready early in the season. The bees and your neighbors will thank you.

What's a mosquito donut? It's a larvicide often sold as a solid in the form of a donut. It kills mosquito larvae, but does not hurt the bees or the bee larvae when they bring the water back to the hive.

Why lemon grass essential oil. It's the scent used in swarm lures, it helps the bees find the water faster, but don't worry, they will find it sooner or later.

Make sure there's always water in the container, or the bees will find a new source, and it will be hard to lure them back.

Check for mosquito larvae every time you replenish the water, since sometimes the mosquito donut may fall out.

We beekeepers set up a water source in late Winter or early Spring, so that when bees start flying around, they are less likely to find the neighbors leaky faucet, and use the water we provide.

Hope you all enjoy a safe Summer!

Bees on rocks in bird bath



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