Make a Bee Waterer And Help Hydrate Our Pollinators, But Don’t Add Sugar

Honey bees pollinate 80 percent of the flowering crops, which make one-third of everything we eat. Their loss could affect not only dietary staples like apples, broccoli, strawberries, nuts, asparagus, blueberries, and cucumbers, but might also threaten the beef and dairy industries in case alfalfa is not available for feed.

A study conducted at the Cornell University estimated that honeybees pollinate $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the U.S. per year, so if they disappear, they could take most of our insect pollinated plants with them, reducing mankind to little more than a water diet.

One bee beats her wings 10,000 times per minute, visits at least 2,000 flowers daily, carries pollen and helps our food supply. This hard work makes beet thirsty, so they need to have access to safe water sources. 

Yet, they often risk drowning in birdbaths or being eaten at rivers and lakes among birds, fish, frogs, and other wildlife, so they decide to fly around and land on us if we are in an outdoor pool.

In her book, The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden, Kim Flottum, the editor of the Bee Culture magazine, claims that water is used to dissolve crystallized honey, to dilute honey when producing larval food, for evaporation cooling when the weather is warm, and for a cool drink on a hot day. Bees remember exactly where to return for the same water source, and foragers seek scented water sources.

Bees use water for:

  • Cooling in the heat of summer, as they spread a thin film of water atop sealed brood (baby bee cells) or on the rims of cells with larvae and eggs. The workers inside the hive then fan vigorously, setting up air flow which evaporates the water and cools the interior of the hive.
  • Controlling Humidity
  • Digestion and metabolization of food
  • Larvae Food – Nurse bees feed the developing larvae, and they need large amounts of pollen, nectar, and water for the hypopharyngeal glands to produce the jelly used to feed the larvae
  • Diluting stored honey that has crystallized or if they are fed dried sugar crystals

However, we can simply help them, by taking a pan or bowl, adding marbles or pebbles and pouring water in it. In this way, they can safely land and drink it.

However, the fake quote of Sir David Attenborough, a well-known broadcaster and naturalist, spread a myth about adding sugar to the water, which can seriously harm bees. Due to its falsity, the BBC requested that Facebook remove the post, but numerous websites have copied it and keep sharing the false information.

This practice seriously endangers beets, as if the bee gets sugar from the water, it will keep returning to it instead of pollinating flowers, and soon, other bees will learn this source too. The hundreds of honey bees will store the sugar water in their hive along with honey, essentially watering down the honey.

This can additionally harm birds and other creatures as well.

Moreover, some people substitute sugar and add honey instead, which can also lead to the destruction of entire hives. Honey can contain spores of a bacteria called Paenibacillus which causes AFD (American Foulbrood disease), which is deadly to bees.  In order to treat it, one should burn the entire hive.

Therefore, make sure you hydrate the bees and help their work, but do not add honey or sugar to the water.