Water source for the honey bees

Every since I started the first colony I’ve been trying hard to see that the bees have a constant supply of water when needed. I’ve put water at numerous locations around the hives but never seen any bees using any of them. I know that with the heat here they must be getting water somewhere–and I’d much prefer that it NOT be someplace where it inconveniences neighbors who might just view them as stinging insects.

Yesterday as I was going through the procedure of lighting my smoker (on my deck) to do my inspection of the hives I noticed bees coming and going right on the deck. There was rainwater standing on the lid of a five-gallon bucket and the bees were getting water from that. It was water that certainly didn’t look potable to me–leaves, and other funky stuff, but there were  lots of them drinking.

I’d read about providing water sources for my bees in a number of places but, apparently, I missed the post from Honey Bee Suite on bees and dirty water. All the water sources that I’ve put out have had gravel or marbles for lots of edges for bees to land on so that they don’t get into deep water and drown–nothing much more depressing to me (well, maybe the RNC) than seeing drowned bees. In spite of my efforts, I’ve not seen bees coming to any of those locations.

I did notice some aggression going on several times while the bees were drinking even though this was a fair distance from the hive. I did note that my ladies of the hive were a bit testier than usual when I did my hive inspection on 19 July 2016, but I was surprised to see it here at the watering hole.

From reading through other posts on Honey Bee Suite, it seems that “dirty” might not be the operative thing here since there are reports of bees frequenting clean water sources but mention was made of bees liking salt pools. Since they were coming to that location I’ve put an additional watering place there as well and added just a bit of salt to see if that pleases them.

I’m not sure what the ladies are telling me–they don’t like city water,  they like rainwater better than city water, or that they like this particular location or something else that I’ve not figured out yet. Although we’re apparently going to have slightly cooler weather (merely in the low 90s) for a few days I’ll be watching as the temperature climbs into the upper 90s to see if the ladies use this water source.