Providing Water For Your Bees and Other Pollinators

water droplets on a leaf

Did you know bees need water? It is an essential part of the hive. As the season heats up the bees use water for cooling the hive.That's right, they had air conditioning long before us! They drink water too.
An average hive can use more than two quarts of water a day. Now you can appreciate why it is important to know your bees have a source of water close by. But that source can be provided by you as well. Ponds, streams and natural waterways are great but a simple bird bath can give them a closer source and you a pleasant view of your bees within your bee-friendly garden.


Native Mason Bee
Native Mason Bee

Pollinators of all kinds can benefit from your water source.
 Native bees and butterflies can be attracted to your gardens by water and thank you by pollinating your garden. Sweet! Now it may seem that bees prefer those mud puddles (who wouldn't !) but they will appreciate the fresh water too. Remember, you can leave a bee water but you can't make her drink. So, let's talk about some creative ways to give the girls a drink and a reason to stop and sip a spell.

First a few reminders.
  • Bees don't swim!
  • Chemicals kill bees :[
  • Bees remember!
A pollinator water source should be shallow. Think birdbath or similar. You can add beautiful marbles or rocks to make a dish shallow. If you add a high spot in your water source it will give the pollinators a place to land and move to the water. This high spot could be accomplished by a plant or potted plant. The soil in the potted plant will then provide another way to deliver water to the pollinators. To be safe be sure not to treat your plants with chemical treatments.

The material of your water source can be important. Bees cannot grip smooth plastic. In the picture, above they are drinking from a cement bird bath. They can grip the sides and not slip into the water. Below a metal ribbed coffee can does the trick.

Bee Crazy

Water set in full sun seems to get the most visitors yet when we set out a pot to root some sweet potatoes in the shade the place was non stop bee crazy! So even if your water source is placed where all opinions say nay, do it until you see it isn't working for yourself!

Have poultry? Using the chick waterer  is a safe way to put water out.

How about a dog bowl? Add rocks or colored glass to keep the bees from swimming.

Have a water feature? Be sure to add anything that floats, lily pads or sticks.


Keeping the water fresh will help to not grow mosquitos. I have had good luck with the natural "dunk" that is safe for aqua life and bees but doesn't let the moquitos breed in the water !

Bees Remember

If you have a water bowl out for the bees try not to move it around. Bees learn where resources are and will return again and again. Yes, puddles and streams dry up and they have to find new water sources but we are trying to help them out. Leave your water in the same place and refill it once you see they found it.
And let me just say THANKS! from the  bees!