Have you ever wondered if bees drink water? Yes they do! Like all animals, bees drink water and need it to survive.
The two main things bees use water for are:
- regulating the hive
- thinning honey
Regulating the hive
Water is used to regulate the temperature inside the hives. The ideal temperature that bees like to keep in their homes is around 91-97 degrees celsius. It is vital to maintain the correct temperatures for brooding season as any extreme temperatures can intervene with the brooding cycle.
Water is also used for thinning out the honey they make. Firstly, bees prefer their honey to be smooth and thin, just like us. Bees need to make sure they have enough honey for the winter months as it provides them with the energy they need to sustain the roles of heating the cluster and protecting the queen. Without an abundant source of honey, bees would starve over winter. This is the main reason for the loss of colonies over these months.
There are certain worker bees that will specialize in collecting the water on foraging expeditions. They will then pass on the water to the house bees, who take in into the hive, carry it to the comb, spit it out onto the cells and fan the liquid. Sounds just like the air conditioning we have in our homes!
How do bees find their water?
Bees have a variety of skills they can use to help them find water. However, did you know that bees can only fly as far as five miles to find a source of water. They locate water sources by smelling the difference between liquid substances. However, unlike us humans who use their nose, bees smell by using their antennas and their front legs. Bees can also tell others where water sources are via their waggle dance.
It is important to provide clean water for your bees, since they can easily get contaminated water if they are allowed to roam free. Using a controlled source of water can help to prevent any harmful bacteria from getting into the bees’ bodies. You could also try salty water, they love this.
When bees are drinking water, they have mastered the delicacy of using their wings to create a hydrofoil action. If they do not, they might drown as they cannot swim. They also use their wings to power the air conditioning effect we discussed earlier. Their wings act as a fan spreading the water droplets around the hive.
How to help the bees?
If you want to help your bees, try making a little bee bath in your garden! Remember, they love salty water, clean water and can only fly a certain distance from their hive, so make sure you don't put it too far away.