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Bee gardening news and education from the UC Davis Bee Haven
by Ted Allen Smith
on November 19, 2017 at 8:52 AM
Is water left in white plastic container that has turned green with algae still ok for large honey hives?
Reply by Christine Casey
on November 20, 2017 at 5:47 AM
Bees prefer what we may perceive as 'dirty' water. Leaves that fall into water leach out minerals that can be important bee nutrients. Researchers have found that bees will preferentially select a water source that contains a mineral that is deficient in their diet.  
So algae in a water source has the potential to be beneficial because it will provide nutrients. One caution is that toxic algal blooms have increased in recent years. I'm unable to find any studies about the effect of toxic algae on bees. If the water in your storage container came from a drinking water source this shouldn't be an issue, but it might be a good idea to change it every so often to be safe.
by Shelley Welch
on July 2, 2019 at 12:39 PM
What great information!
Reply by Christine Casey
on July 2, 2019 at 1:39 PM
Glad you find this useful. It's so important for bee health to provide water, which is something that bee gardeners are often not aware of.
by Mary Michelle Daniels
on July 18, 2020 at 6:20 AM
Where do you place the bees watering pan? I live in Texas where is can get to 105 degrees in summer. I'm afraid the shallow dish with marbles and water will get too hot in the sun plus would evaporate quickly. I keep mine under my covered porch near the native saliva.
Reply by Christine Casey
on July 20, 2020 at 9:09 AM
Mary Michelle,  
It gets hot here in central California as well. I keep mine in a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade, and I need to fill it about every other day.  
My only concern with your location is that bees might not fly under a porch cover. They navigate by the sun and need to have the sky overhead.
by sherry wright
on October 8, 2020 at 11:53 AM
i live in Eastern Washington state in the country and i have had honey bees coming for water at my pets watering bowl and soaker hoses in my garden and any leakey faucets i have. There are so many of them that we bump into each other. I have tried to find where they are going to but can't. My question is that i need to shut my water off soon due to winter , will that kill the bees?
Reply by Christine Casey
on October 8, 2020 at 2:12 PM
The honey bees you see are collecting water mostly to cool the interior of their hive. As colder winter weather arrives the need for this diminishes. When it's cold enough that your pipes might freeze, it's cold enough that the bees won't need your water source.
by Mary L. Nutting
on June 30, 2021 at 7:56 AM
Interested in taking care of the bees in my garden
Reply by Christine Casey
on July 6, 2021 at 7:28 AM
Glad you would like to take care of the bees that use your garden. Be sure to have something in bloom at all times; if you're in California the Haven's plant list is a good place to start:
by Nina Haskett
on June 30, 2021 at 10:49 AM
Would it work to place the dish in a plant container? Or does it need to be in a more visible location?  
Thank you for providing all this great information about taking care of the bees!
Reply by Christine Casey
on July 6, 2021 at 7:29 AM
Glad you are finding the blog helpful. Please try placing your water source in a plant container and let us know how that works.
by Amanda
on June 30, 2021 at 7:29 PM
I made a pollinator hydration station from a rock that I smoothed out a shallow bowl, I have never seen any pollinators near it. It’s in my front flower garden. Today I noticed honey bees drinking water from my bog in my back garden. They were standing in the mud. Is there something I can do to encourage drinking from my front station as well? I would hate for a bee to fall into one of the pitcher plants or get caught in a fly trap while stopping at my bog for a drink.
Reply by Christine Casey
on July 6, 2021 at 7:32 AM
Bees tend to return to a water source once they've found it, and it seems they prefer your bog garden. Possibly the surface of the rock is too hot for them to stand in, while the mud is cooler. Could you create a muddy area away from the carnivorous plants?
by Rodd
on August 19, 2021 at 6:15 AM
I would like to sign up for a userid so I can receive notifications of new posts in this blog, but can't figure out how. Can anyone help me?
Reply by Christine Casey
on August 19, 2021 at 10:53 AM
Thanks for your interest in receiving blog notifications. There's a 'Subscribe' option on the right-hand side near the top of the page. Enter your email address and then click on the small envelope and you'll be subscribed.
by TY
on June 6, 2022 at 11:19 AM
Is drinking warm or hot water a problem for bees in the summer? I hear talk about bees avoiding hot surfaces and many bee waterers are shallow receptacles. I’m assuming the water in them is pretty warm. Is that fine or is it better to try to keep the water cooler, if possible?
Reply by Christine Casey
on June 6, 2022 at 4:18 PM
TY, the ambient water temperature is fine. Remember without our help, bees would be seeking water from ponds or other natural sources that don't have any cooling.
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