Friday, April 6, 2012

The Mystery of the Thirsty Honeybees: Solved

Where my honeybees have been obtaining water for the past 3 years has been a mystery.  Well, not a complete mystery.  I have seen them drinking out of the interior of my son's sandbox tire after a rain.  They have also been known to frequent the backyard water spigot when the hose has been in use.  But where they haven't been drinking are their "designated watering holes."  Designated by myself, of course, their "all-knowing" and "ever-wise" beekeeper! 

The first watering holes that I provided were 5 gallon buckets filled with water.  Into each of the buckets I draped a length of burlap for the bees to climb down on so they wouldn't drowned.  I don't think that I ever saw any bees using the buckets, even during the drought last summer.

In addition to the buckets, I added a nice birdbath to the backyard to encourage hydration.  I had always figured the bees were heading to a drainage ditch in the middle of the field that border our property, but with the lack of rainfall it didn't seem likely to be holding any water.  Still, no drinking bees.

Then, by complete chance, I discovered their secret.  I was told by our neighbor to the south about an old concrete garden pond on the extra lot to the south of their house.  Thinking that this would be a great place to take my son, Evan, to find tadpoles we headed over their yesterday, Mason jar in hand.  We did not find any tadpoles.  What we found instead was a steady stream of honeybees flying on and off of the pond's edge!  

I knew they had to be mine as the only other colonies that I am aware of are about 2 miles away.  This was confirmed by the "bee-line" that they were making across my neighbor's backyard toward their hive.  They seem to be like most animals and prefer the icky water that they hunt out themselves rather than the fresh, clean bowl that it placed out for them.  Mystery solved!  Now onto the next mystery: which of my hens is laying the double-yolked eggs?

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