We have tried various methods to supply our hives with a good supply of water. Numerous years we have placed fresh clean water close to their flight paths, each one rejected. All bees seem to have a mind of their own with special preferences for local watering holes. The more repulsive looking the better. Much like us I suppose with our favourite tavern, bar or restaurant. They seem to prefer the nice brown stinky “spring fed” liquid that lies at the bottom of the field. Which is probably why our honey has such a unique bouquet and brings us so many wonderful compliments from our clients.
Specific bees have the task of collecting water and bringing it back to the hive. Most of the water is left on the combs in the brood box. It is then another group of bees which fan the vapour up through the hive to cool the inside temperature. We have something similar in our house called an air conditioner. Other bees will drink the water as needed, especially nurse bees, who rarely leave the hive. This water, with pollen and nectar, is necessary for them to produce the jelly which is fed to the young larvae. The queen will also be fed water when required. We are lucky that our hives are in a rural area. Urban beekeeping can bring numerous problems but bees visiting swimming pools in a populated area is one of the major ones. It seems bees love the slight aroma of chlorine and this can make neighbours a little irritated.
The photo below shows Ginette putting in the hours at her local watering hole.