A bee’s primary source of food is flowers. We know that nectar is liquid and they easily consume it. But do they need other sources of liquid to fulfil their nutritional requirements? Do bees drink water or will they stick to nectar?
Yes, bees do drink water. Although nectar is a liquid, they also need to consume some water to obtain other nutrients vital to their survival.
The water that bees drink is inherently very dirty, and bees often go to unclean sources such as gutters or puddles to quench their thirst. This water is filled with nutrients that bees require, so they opt for it over clean, fresh water. Among bee colonies, certain bees are delegated the task of collecting water.
Honey bees perform a special dance through which they let other workers know about the water source.
Bees also drink from guttation which are drops of water that plants excrete from their edges. This is one of the best sources of water for bees as it’s full of goodness from the plant but there is also a little-to-no risk of them drowning.
Like many insects, bees prefer drinking from small ponds that are already murky due to the presence of algae. Ponds might be a great source of water for bees but it’s also dangerous. Unfortunately, while drinking water from ponds, many bees accidentally kill themselves by drowning.
This is why bees usually prefer drinking from trickling water sources as there is no chance of drowning. This is why you are most likely to find bees near fountains.
You may also encounter bees near bird baths as they are a convenient spot for bees to rest at the sides and drink water.
Yes, bees will drink from ponds in your garden. In fact, they will drink from any water source that they can access without the risk of drowning. Having a shallow area in a pond with plenty of stones or pebbles just above the water level would be perfect for bees.
Bees are not fussy when it comes to water. They tend to be attracted to water that smells of something – not necessarily sweet – which is why they’re often drawn in by pool water or salt water.
Do Bees Drink Sugary Water?
Yes, bees can drink sugary water. However, beekeepers mostly use sugary water as a last resort supplement. Since bees feed primarily on flower nectar, sweet, sugary water is created to replicate this nectar.
Even though sugary water isn’t the same as flower nectar, it is an adequate replacement for sweetness and makes up for the lack of carbohydrates.
However, nectar contains many nutrients not found in sugary water.
When bee colonies are building their hives or have fallen prey to bad weather conditions, beekeepers feed bees with sugary water to give them the extra energy they need.
However, it is important to use only white sugar to make sugary water, not brown sugar or even molasses, as bees cannot digest these forms of refined sugar easily. You can learn more about the types of sugar bees can digest here.
Can You Give Water to a Bee?
Yes, you can give water to a bee. However, the water that bees drink isn’t the same as the water we humans would normally drink.
Most bees drink water from unusual places such as gutters, rain, or puddles. However, one thing common in these water sources is that the water here is high in sodium chloride. Therefore, the water you give bees must have adequate sodium chloride.
You can also give bees sugary water. You should combine equal combinations of sugar and water and give it a quick mix. You can simply offer them a couple of drops of this sugary mixture on a teaspoon, and they’ll drink it off it.
How Much Water Does a Bee Drink?
It is claimed that bees drink roughly their weight in water. 4,000 bees weigh roughly 1 pound. 1 pound of water is around 460 millilitres. This means that 1 bee will drink approximately 0.115 millilitres of water per day.
However, it’s worth remembering that bees don’t just drink water so they will need more than this per day.
Apart from drinking it, bees use water to make their stored honey thin enough for them to feed their larva. They also use it to moderate the temperature of their hive.
Do Bees Drink Honey?
Yes, all bee species involved in making honey also consume it. Since bees spend most of their time foraging, they burn a lot of energy while carrying pollen. They eat honey from their hives to replenish this lost energy.
This is why, when winter approaches, worker bees indulge in more honey production than usual for their store for winter. There aren’t enough flowers to obtain nectar from during this time.
However, you should never try to give bees store-bought honey as it is full of pathogens.
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Water is an integral part of every living thing’s life, including bees!
However, Bees do not go for clear and hygienic water like humans. Instead, they drink water from filthy places including gutters and ponds. However, this water contains all the nutrients and minerals that bees require.
Bees don’t just need this water for themselves but also for their larva. Certain bees have been delegated to collect water from multiple sources such as gutters and plant guttation.
In general, one bee will drink approximately 0.115 millilitres of water per day – the equivalent of their weight in water.