honey bee behavior photographs

Out for a drink

After I wrote about favorite watering holes for bees, several readers wrote to say their bees liked wet potting soil. One reader sent the following photo of four bees in a small plastic pot.

Yesterday I was able to capture three bees drinking from some wet woodchips that I had dumped on a woodland path. Another person said their bees liked wet coffee grounds. I put some out near the hives for a few hours but found no takers . . . swearing off the caffeine, I suppose.

Bees in potting soil. Photo by DW Krape.

Three bees in wet woodchips.

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  • I have created several what I call Bee Bars about our farm. Over by our garden and atop the flagstone garden border. I’ll take any shallow bowl and fill with rocks or glass stones and then add water. It’s fun to watch them “saddle up” and have a drink. Allows me to get up close and personal. 🙂

  • I see the bees sucking at the dirt like that all over our raised garden beds. It makes planting time more adventurous.

  • Oh my goodness, I was just going to make a post about this! I have a barrel for watering the bees but they have stopped using it; I’ve seen them on my potting soil in the little seedling pots and on the sand along the stream bank at the back of my yard. Great post!

  • Many members of our bee club swear by using buckets of water with a towel draped over the side of the bucket and in the water. The towel absorbs the water and give the bees something to cling to as they drink.

  • Yesterday I noted some water dripping onto dry flagstones under an over-watered hanging basket had attracted some honey bees which stayed all afternoon till gone 7 (i.e. when I gave up topping up the shallow depression, ?5mm, over and over). Even running more water on did not deter them; one even liked the swim!
    Some stayed so long they should have ballooned if just drinking.

    Today, colder and breezy the flag was dried out so I splashed on some more. Within minutes a bee had arrived and was feeding or sucking up the water. Is it just water they are after or the maybe enlivened fine lichen?
    How can they spot this so fast?

    • I’m sure they smell it. The water probably takes up materials, including minerals and small life-forms, from both the hanging basket and the flagstones. They can smell these from long distances. They can also remember from one day to the next.

  • My bees are going crazy for coffee grounds in the compost pile. They are filling their saddle bags full! We have had a warm spell (mid 40s) and the girls are out for a cup of joe.

  • Please help me. I have put out water for birds in one of those plastic orange colored pot holders (so plants don’t drip on the table,) and included a large rock also. Every one of the bees died and I found them floating. Bees are so wonderful, what can I do to stop this!!!!!