If you have a small backyard space or garden, you can enjoy helping bees. Using bee friendly gardening techniques can make a big difference for our bees, wasps and other beneficial insects. There are many ways you can help. One cute idea is a homemade bee watering station made with a clay pot and saucer.
Of course, if you have a large space, perhaps you can create a meadow of flowering plants. Be sure to include many colors and types. Flowers that attract bees will also bring many other pollinators to the garden. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and others come in search of food.
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A variety of blooming plants will provide different kinds of nectar and pollen for the insect visitors. A diverse diet helps keep bees healthy. And a bee garden can be a beautiful and relaxing place for you too.
Bees Gather Nectar, Pollen and Water too!
We have all read about the different things bees collect. Most people have seen this work in progress. Buzzy bees gathering pollen and plant nectar from flowers is a common site.
However, pollinators need more than food and shelter, they need water too. They do a good job of seeking out water sources. However, there is no reason you should not offer a drink for thirsty bees.
How Honey Bees Use Water
Honey bees collect water and take it back to their colony but they do not store water inside the hive. It must be collected as needed.
Inside the hive, some bees are designated to serve a mini water tanks. They move around inside the hive with their honey stomach full of water. House bees use this water where it is needed.
Water is used to thin thick honey-this makes it easier to consume. Water is also used to help control the temperature and humidity inside the hive. Bees place drops of water along the surface of the honeycomb and cool the hive by fanning their wings.
Water Sources for Your Bee Garden
There are many different ways to provide a water source in the garden. From water gardens to simple water fountains, a pollinator watering station can be useful and beautiful.
A popular craft for kids of all ages is creating a simple DIY bee waterer using a wide saucer and colorful pebbles. This is something even young children can make.
Granted, a small dish does not hold much water but it is a nice addition to your bee garden decor. And, a great opportunity to discuss insect life with the young ones.
Clay Pot Pollinator Watering Station
A slightly advanced water project is the use of clay pots to create a larger feature. Clay pots are a traditional favorite for many gardeners. A medium sized clay pot and saucer will create a colorful bee water station that will look nice for years.
Decorate it however you wish, paint it or leave it natural. It looks lovely in any corner of the garden. A bold bright color will make it stand out while the neutral tans and greens allow the water station to blend. Either one is fine, because thirsty bees will smell the water and come to drink.
A small water source like this is beneficial for area bees, wasps, butterflies, etc. And, it makes a cute addition to your garden or gift for bee loving friends.
However, a beekeeper with several colonies, needs a larger consistent water source. A thirsty hive with thousands of worker bees can consume a great deal of water on a hot day.
Spend some time considering the best place create a larger water source for your hives. Otherwise, you may find your neighbors complaining because they can’t keep your bees out of their swimming pool. That’s no fun.
DIY Bee Watering Station Tutorial
- heat gun (or hairdryer)
- 1 piece terra cotta clay pot 8" with saucer
- 1 can spray paint primer – Bullseye 1-2-3 (or similar )
- 1 can Clear Coat Sealer
- 2 pieces small craft paint brush
- 1 pkg Small Rocks of Pebbles
- 3 pieces Craft Paint Outdoors assorted
- 1 piece Paint Pen Black
- Painting the Pot. (This is optional but highly recommended.) If you want to leave the natural clay surface – only paint the inside of the pot that will not be visible. This seals out moisture.Turn the pot upside down and spray paint the outside with primer/paint. This will seal the pot and make the surface more suitable for decorating with colorful paint. Use any color you want for your garden. Let dry completely.
- Draw Simple Designs on the Outside Surface. Use a pencil to lightly trace simple flowers or designs on your pot. Remember, it will be upside down (when finished) so draw your flowers in the correct orientation.
- Add Color to Your Design: When you are pleased with your pencil sketches – use outdoor craft paint to add color. A black paint marker makes a nice bold outline around your colors. Then, fill in the flowers or other decorations with colorful paint.Optional: Use a heat gun or hair dryer to hasten paint drying.
- Seal Your Design. Once the paint is dry, you may wish to spray the pot and saucer with clear acrylic sealer and let dry again. This is to keep your colors looking fresh for a longer time .With the pot upside down, set the saucer on top. You could glue this in place if you wish or leave the bee watering station in two parts.
- Add water and rocks or pebbles. Let the bee watering station dry and cure for a couple of days. Then, choose a nice level place in your garden,. Place a few large rocks (or many small pebbles) in the saucer to give the bees safe drinking places. Add water and enjoy.
You can use any size clay pot but 8″ in the smallest size desirable. Smaller saucers contain less water so think big.
Your bee watering station should be emptied and refilled occasionally to keep the water clean and fresh. If you live in an area with a lot of rain, it is okay to let it fill with rainwater. Do be sure to provide a safe, shallow drinking place for visiting bees and butterflies.
Bees and other pollinators need water and they will seek it out. If your area is lacking in natural water sources or they are polluted, providing a pollinator water source is a great thing to provide clean water.
This bee garden craft is as fun as it is practical. For a thirsty bee or butterfly – every drop counts. If you are really enjoying creating with terra cotta…. consider this easy bee themed terra cotta candy dish.