If you have noticed many dead bees in your bird bath, pond, or swimming pool, you may wonder why the bees are drowning and how you can help them get water and survive. Providing a safe water station will save the bees from drowning and keep them out of your pool or pond.
Bird baths must be made bee-safe to prevent the bees from drowning. The bees need a safe place to land and drink water and a way to escape from the water should they fall in by accident. Some bird baths are bee friendly by design, while others can be modified for bees with little to no cost.
A bird bath can be an ideal way to give water to the bees and the birds, but they need some modifications to be safe for bees. A few minor changes can change your bird bath from a death trap to a welcome water source for your local bees.
Preventing Bees From Drowning In Your Bird Bath
Bees will use water from any location available, even if it is risky for them to do so. The colony needs the water to transform nectar into honey and for environmental control inside the hive. Bees also need water to drink to hydrate their bodies, the same as we do.
Some water sources, such as swimming pools, fishponds, and unprotected bird baths, can become attractive to the bees if there are no other options.
Bees can drown in your swimming pool or become a hazard for family members using the pool area. If you would like to find out more about dissuading bees around your pool area, we have an article dedicated to keeping wasps and bees away from your pool.
One of the solutions is to create an alternative, safer water source for the bees to find the water they need. However, a bird bath on its own may be as deadly to the bees as a swimming pool.
Why Do Bees Drown In A Bird Bath?
Bees will take personal risks to access the resources they need for themselves and the colony. The biggest cause of bee drownings in bird baths is deep water without a means to land safely or exit the water if the bees fall into the water.
When bees fall into deep water, they swim around, looking for an exit point. If they cannot find a way to get out, they become exhausted or too waterlogged to continue swimming, and they drown.
So how can you make your bird bath bee-safe for birds and bees and help the bees get the water they need?
Choose The Right Bird Bath Design For Bees
A bird bath with a large lip and a gentle slope into the water makes for an ideal bee-safe bird bath design.
The bees have a safe place to land on the rim of the bird bath and drink or collect water from the shallow water at the edge.
If a bee falls into deeper water in the bird bath, it can swim to the edge and easily crawl out of the water. The large lip of the bird bath gives the waterlogged bee a chance to sit in the sun to warm up and dry off before flying off.
This design allows for shallow water for the bees and deeper waters for the birds that want to splash about.
Place Pebbles In The Bird Bath For Bees To Escape
If you already have a bird bath and the design is not bee-friendly, you can modify the design to help the bees.
Place a few large pebbles in the bird bath. The pebbles must be large enough to protrude above the water level.
The pebbles give the bees a safe place to land and drink and an exit point if a few should fall into the water. They can swim to a pebble, climb out, dry off, and fly away.
You can fill the bottom of the bird bath with appropriately sized pebbles or position them in certain locations to keep some deep water for the birds.
Use Large Marbles For A Bee-Safe Bird Bath
If you don’t like the idea of pebbles in your bird bath, another option that has more aesthetic appeal is a few large marbles or marbles of varying sizes. The glassy effect of the marbles enhances the appearance of the water while giving the bees a place to land or a way out of the water.
You may think that glass marbles are too slippery for bees to use to climb out of the water, but if you have seen a bee on a window, you can see how they can walk up a vertical pane of glass.
The marbles must protrude sufficiently from the water to give the bees space to land safely without falling into the water.
Place A Sponge In The Bird Bath For The Bees
A sponge placed in the bird bath will soak up water until it floats just below the water’s surface. This floating sponge acts as a raft where the bees can land and drink. They can stand in the shallow water on top of the sponge.
The disadvantage of a floating sponge is that it degrades over time and can encourage algae growth in the bird bath. To avoid this outcome, the sponge should be replaced every two weeks with a fresh sponge.
Place Wood In The Bird Bath For Bees
If you prefer something more natural looking than a piece of sponge floating in your bird bath, you can use pieces of wood instead.
You can place some thick sticks floating in the water or a larger piece of wood that looks like a piece of driftwood to maintain the natural appeal.
The wood can be free-floating, or one end can rest on the edge of the bird bath, with the other end extending into the water.
Drop Some Corks In The Bird Bath To Save Bees
A few corks floating in your bird bath provide ideal landing and drinking platforms in the water for the bees.
The bees can land safely, drink from the safety of the cork, and if any bees fall in, they can haul themselves out on a cork. Using corks is a good way to repurpose an item that is typically thrown into the garbage.
Corks are a good way to keep the bees above the water level. Bird baths with stones or marble can flood after rain, raising the water level above the safe landing on these items.
If you don’t have any corks, a section of cork floor tile also works well and provides a larger surface area for the bees to utilize.
Bees need water to drink, make honey and keep the colony cool. They source water wherever they can find it, even your bird bath. If the bird bath is not bee-friendly, many bees will drown trying to access the water.
Making your bird bath safe for bees to find water is easy and, in some cases, can enhance the look of your bird bath. Be kind to your neighborhood bees, and make your bird bath a safe drinking spot!