Like any creatures, bees get thirsty. So they have to get water from somewhere, for themselves and their hive. They also use water to control the humidity of the hive, as part of the process of making honey.
We have a big pond they can drink from, but it’s easy for bees to drown if they’re not careful. We also have a stream, and in summer a swimming pool, but those aren’t ideal water sources either (Jenn has rescued several bees from the pool when swimming).
So we also have a small kiddie pool that has rocks in it to act as safe landing zones for the bees. It is by the closest tap to the hives, near the greenhouse. Bees will fly for miles to find water, but if they have a ready source close to the hive, they don’t need to go to less ideal places.
The pool was immediately below the tap, but that made it hard to turn it on to top up the pool, when lots of bees are buzzing around. So I recently added a splitter and a couple of short hoses; one going into the pool, which can now be a bit further away, and another for use when working in the greenhouse (until I get around to adding taps in there):
I also added a couple of bits of wood as additional landing pads for the bees:
As a temporary thing, I set up the mobile cam above the pool, so I could watch the bees using it, just for fun. In the above picture, you can see the beehives and greenhouse in the background, to give a better idea of the location.
One interesting observation was that birds and cats also take advantage of the water source. Here’s a crow drinking from the bee pool:
A cat drinking:
Bees drinking from the pool; notice some on the wood, some around the edge, and a bunch on the rocks:
If I zoom in on the pile of rocks, you can more clearly see lots of bees:
A crow drinking again; it doesn’t care about the bees:
The crow decided to walk across the platforms, somewhat unsuccessfully: