Thirsty Bees

img_3051When my husband created a pond in the yard, I expected the damselflies, mayflies, midges, diving beetles, and other aquatic insects to show up. I even expected the heron who occasionally drops by to sample the goldfish.

I didn’t necessarily expect the honey bees.

I wasn’t surprised when they showed up, though. What surprised me was the sheer numbers that have shown up this summer. The edge of the pond has been humming for weeks as hundreds of bees jostle for space on the best perches.

Honey bees, like all animals, need water–at least a litre a day per hive. The bees don’t just drink the water; they also use it to dissolve honey that has crystallised, dilute honey for larval food, and to cool the hive on hot days.

When scout bees find a good water source, they mark it with pheromones that tell the other bees it’s a good spot. I reckon by now, the edge of our pond is sticky with pheromones (or at least stinky with them), because there’s always a crowd there.

And after yesterday’s 31°C (88°F) temperatures and 130 kph (81 mph) wind, the pond was extra crowded today.

I’m happy to oblige the bees. I need them to pollinate my vegetables, and they’re not aggressive when they’re foraging away from the hive, in spite of the potentially frightening crowds. The arrangement is a win-win situation for all of us.

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