As the temperature rise in the garden it is important to remember the bees you’re attracting to your garden will also be searching for water. For bees, a supply of water is as important as pollen and nectar forage in the summer.
A standing water supply can create a breeding ground for mosquitoes if you’re not careful. Sydney Baton, social media manager for the Chicago Honey Co-op, recommends topping off the container and letting the water run out.
“Since the larvae hang out at the top, the idea is that they will flow out over the edge, she tells me. “The other option is to have a way to keep the surface of the water moving slightly. That keeps the mosquitoes from laying eggs.”
To create a watering station for bees, you don't need to spend much money or any fancy equipment. Simply take a bucket, pail or trough and fill it with water. Float an ample supply of wine corks in the water to give bees a landing pad so they can drink their fill of water and you're done.
Once bees discover the source of water they'll visit throughout the day, but prime bee watching occurs just before sundown as bees take their last drink before returning to the hive for the night.
If you're in the Chicago area I recommend attending the Slow Food Chicago Sweet Summer Solstice this month. If you're lucky: you'll witness the evening migration of bees from the water supply back to the hives. It's an amazing sight that rivals observing a bee swarm.