Why do bees like dirty water??? (Or is it just mine!)

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    • #2758
      Chris
      Participant

      So I have ponds and little streams and field troughs of springwater in abundance but instead the bees like to collect water from the mud around a spring in the field. Why? I have also noticed them on dog pee and in the pigs sty!!!! What are they doing? Minerals?? Is this why my honey tastes so good???

    • #2763
      Gary T
      Participant

      My wife has a potting-out tray on a table just outside the greenhouse and noticed it was covered in bees the other day. Just this tray, amongst several. Clearly not as, ahem, discerning as Chris’ bees but what was it about this one tray – the water on the surface or perhaps something in the soil?

      Bees in a potting out tray - Copyright Gary

    • #2764
      Tim
      Participant

      Same problem here. The bees like the muck heap (horse muck) and the goose’s pool which is quite green at the moment (goose departed a few months ago at a very ripe old age). They like drowning in this and the hens water bucket so I have to place twigs and floating items in them which helps. I now have a dedicated sheep trough with lots of floaty items which seems to be working, They seem to ignore our stream which runs along the bottom of the garden. As Chris says – – a good marketing ploy – – muck heap honey!

    • #2770
      Gary T
      Participant

      Looking forward to an article in the BBKA Magazine – moving your bees to the muck heap to get premium honey!

    • #2771
      Chris
      Participant

      I forgot to say about the muck heap, but you are right, they love it! Weird isn’t it? There must be a reason but I have never seen any articles or research in regard to this. A topic for lockdown research?

      • #2784
        David
        Participant

        I had an apiary close to Severn Trents main Finham sewage treatment works for several years, where the effluent from Coventry’s drains etc. was processed. The honey from there always had a unique but pleasant, prize winning flavour. Where there’ s muck, there’s honey?? 😉

    • #2898
      GrahamN
      Participant

      Mine fly past my nice clean bird bath and collect water from just behind the rose on a watering can or from the paving slabs on the patio if it has been raining. Clean water but hardly the most efficient method available!

    • #2902
      Chris
      Participant

      From what I have now read, it appears there are a number of reasons. Firstly, temperature. Shallow water dribbling from a compost heap is warmer than a cold pool or stream. Secondly, smell. Bees don’t see water like we do. When they fly over everything is a blur but they can obviously smell extremely well and hence smelly water is easier to find! Also salts and minerals play a big part. One article I read said that water considered dirty by us is actually a ‘vitamin mix’ for bees! All very interesting. When you dig around on the web it is a question that has been posed by quite a few beekeepers and a very widespread behaviour by the bees. Compost heaps feature a lot. One beekeeper even took a photograph of bees drinking from wet concrete. Of course, another factor is risk of drowning. Much less in a shallow run off or damp patch than a fast flowing stream

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