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Water Supply for Bees

Do bees need it?

There is much written and said about supplying water in the apiary for bees, but is there any real need for the beekeeper to supply it? This will always be a hot topic as long as there are beekeepers, but I suppose the key word is "need".

Bees survived for millions of years without having water supplied, so I think that gives us the answer. I have never given a supply of water, but of course like others I have done it without thinking, by leaving a container out that has filled up with rain water and the bees have used it. Because they use it doesn't mean they need it, just that it is convenient.

Some beekeepers do give water and I see no problem with that. I am keen on observing bees both inside and outside the hive and you can learn quite a bit by quietly watching, so why not do it? One of the first things you will notice if you do place water out is that when there is a nectar dearth the bees are far more active at the water, when there is a nectar flow, the water is likely to be abandoned.

Getting back to the original point - do beekeepers need to supply water? The answer is obviously no, but you won't be doing any harm, so if you wish to, then do it, especially if you can learn from it.

Roger Patterson.