Bees, like other creatures, need water. According to Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine, they use it to dissolve crystallized honey, to dilute honey for food for larvae, and evaporate it to cool the hive. They also enjoy a cool drink on a hot day. (For more on the subject, see “Why Honey Bees Need Water” from the “Bug Squad” blog.)
In our beekeeping class, the teachers stressed the importance of a water source when deciding where to place a hive. Since we have a stream that runs sporadically on our property and maintain a birdbath full of fresh water for the birds even in the winter, I figured we had the water source covered.
But for the first month or so, we didn’t see any bees on the birdbath, and I assumed they’d found water elsewhere.
Well, guess what! They’ve discovered the birdbath!
I was so excited I went out to take a picture.
Then I crept closer and took another.
Closer for another.
I’ve been taking pictures of thirsty bees ever since. But I promise, this is the last I’ll share.
Then we did our hive check on Sunday, and once more, I freaked out over something that turned out to be nothing.
You see, as soon as we opened the hive, there was a nasty little beetle staring right at me. I tried several times to smash it with my hive tool and missed. The darn thing ran right back into the hive.
Beetles, if you don’t know it, lay eggs that turn into larvae capable of turning a hive into a slimefest faster than you can imagine.
So, of course, I immediately imagined anything that glistened was slime. I was so creeped out I sent this picture to the Bee Guru. She said it was just nectar and pollen.
Whew! I’m not completely stupid. The frame above looks vastly different from the one below from a few weeks ago. Don’t you think?
We’re quickly discovering that beekeeping is an education in how little we know.