Social Question

ibstubro's avatar

Has anyone had issues with honey bees swarming their birdbath?

Asked by ibstubro (12528 points ) April 19th, 2014

My birdbath has become the ‘go to’ place for honey bees this spring. There’s 20, 25 bees at all times, coming and going in an almost orderly rotation.

Now, understand that I don’t have a problem with this. I think it’s cool, as a matter of fact, and I’ve built them a little bee pond, adding a rock in the center and a broken Y shaped stick. I was concerned that so many bees seemed to be drowning, and the stick solved that.

I’m tickled to help out the beleaguered bee population in some small way. My dirty birds never used their bath anyway.

I have to admit to a bit of embarrassment when I realized that the roofers were all watching me – a 50+ yo man – flipping the live bees out of the water, before the stick notion.

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24 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

My bro-in-law keeps 17 hives and is single-handedly devoted to protecting and preserving the honey bees in our area.

He had several birdbaths designed just for the bees, with little rocks and sticks just like you. The roofers will probably vote you MVP. I certainly would.

Did you know that the first food supply in the spring for the honey bees are the dandelions? I just learned this.

janbb's avatar

Yay for any bees that are still around!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Do you have no other source of water nearby? Well, it would have been worse if you picked up each bee to throw out.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Let’s hear it for nature’s great tribute to socialism.

syz's avatar

Do you live in an arid region?

Cruiser's avatar

Hats off to you for being a bees best friend!

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Around here it’s big orange wasps. I had a small water feature in my yard and eventually took it out to keep those little bastards away. If i could attract honey bees i’d be happy.

ibstubro's avatar

I have toyed with the idea of setting up a bee habitat, @gailcalled, for several years. Not to harvest honey, mine you, but just to help the bees.
Wow, my homemade bee fount just came from me observing the bees, and being attentive to their needs.
Maybe they like it here because to the quantity of weeds!

I agree, @janbb! obviously

There is a creek ½ mile away, @Adirondackwannabe. Maybe more. I’m thinking that’s a lot of airtime! They were at the birdbath last year, but there was a steady visitor rate of around 9 bees. Perhaps they have moved closer, or established a new colony.
Crap, all of a sudden I feel responsibility coming on! ;)

I think that’s ants, @stanleybmanly, where they’re prone to take the stores of others if it furthers their needs.

No, @syz. I’m only as far from masses of water as the Mississippi river basin is wide. The Mighty miss is hugging the west coast of the basin, me the east. Maybe 4 miles as the crow flies. Fertile Midwest.

Thanks, @Cruiser. I’d do more if I could. I think the 10,000 acres across the road from my house is in soybeans this year…bee heaven!

No, @ARE_you_kidding_me, I’m proud of my honey bees! (I’ll admit to killing wasps, especially a nest of ground wasps.)

syz's avatar

My backyard lawn is not a lawn – it’s a carpet of weeds. Michele and I have a long-running disagreement over it; I like the low growing, blooming weeds as a habitat for bees, she wants to spread weed killer. So we compromised by having the front lawn look like a lawn, and the back lawn look like a meadow. (I toyed with the idea of setting up a hive, but she lost her mind over that, so I’ve let it go.)

I don’t have bees in my birdbath, but they (and wasps) do compete with the hummingbirds at the feeder.

Cruiser's avatar

@ibstubro I am in the Chicago area and the bee population here is very pressured. Thankfully I live next to a wet land and the bees are fairly plentiful but I keep hearing how the bee population is shrinking big time. Every little bit helps at this stage of the game.

Coloma's avatar

Bees swarm in spring and if a swarm is thirsty, it will capitalize on whatever water source it finds. I had a hive in a hollow oak tree on my old property for years. I watered my bees every night in the summer, misted the tree and they had instant AC and water to drink and happy little bee showers. lol

gailcalled's avatar

@syz: Arg. Weed killer? Would you like us to filibuster Michele for you? You can have weeds in your lawn if you mow regularly; the lawn will look still very lawnish.

My bro-in-law has a huge, spring-fed pond about 100 yards from the house; he has large, branched cedar logs draped artistically around the shallow end for the turtles to sun on. The bees could use that as their beverage source, but having the bird baths near the hives is what makes my bro-in-law a wonderful host.

ibstubro's avatar

I have a shed behind the house, @syz, but back against the bluff. If I let the yard wildflower, I couldn’t get to it, or I’d be all over the idea of a meadow outside the patio door!

Pleased to be doing my “little bit” @Cruiser. At one point I think I asked here, on Fluther, if there were small ways I could help the bees, based on them drinking at my birdbath. I’ve been rewarded.

I have a feeling they have a tree near, @Coloma. If I knew for sure, I would start another bee pond, but I’m not willing to mist every night. I don’t THINK.

ONE summer, couple of years ago, @gailcalled, the ditch/gully beside my home became a babbling brook. I was so in hopes that the limestone cliff behind the house had given way and created a permanent stream. I wanted a small dam on it. Damn it, dried up. I would so like to have a spring-fed pond. So would my the bees

JLeslie's avatar

I didn’t know bees would come to water like this. I love that you provided a way for the bees not to drown. I’m always fascinated by people who work around bees and almost never get stung. Bees come right to me. I can be sitting there, still, and they will fly right up and sting me. They absolutely ruin the outdoors for me, bees and wasps. I pulled out the flowering bushes in the backyard of my last house because I don’t want any bees flying anywhere near me! When I moved back to FL I was looking forward to being in a state with fewer bees, and indeed I rarely see them here. Although, I learned that since I lived here last the Africanized bees have arrived in this state. Already heard of one death of a dog while living here again. Curse the man who brought African bees to the Americas.

ibstubro's avatar

I have no bee training, @JLeslie. I’m just watching, and responding to their needs. It seemed difficult for them to drink from the vertical sides of the concrete Bee Pond (bird bath), so I added a rock in the middle. It seemed too many were drowning, so I added a stick to grab hold of.

I love being out there, pouring a cup of water into the Bee Pond, the bees buzzing all around me as the water level rises. Perhaps bees sense ‘fear’ as ‘predator’? I have no fear, enjoy the buzz.

I think you’d be good in my company.

JLeslie's avatar

I have no fear when I am standing there and suddenly I feel myself stung. My husband finally witnessed it happen to me, and now he is a believer. We had no idea a bee was near my feet while we were talking to someone and standing still.

Mosquitos come to me like crazy also. Some people do attract Mosquitos more than others, “they” have studied it.

ibstubro's avatar

Yes, @JLeslie, I used to be a mosquito magnet myself. Perhaps my metabolism has changed, as it doesn’t seem to be the problem it was when I was younger. I only remember being stung by sweat-bees. Maybe the occasional wasp when I was a kid and asked for it.

Have you tried those bracelets that are supposed to repel bugs? In the meantime, keep an eye on water sources in your yard for bee activity and be very careful around gas stations – their trash seems to have high bee activity around here.

JLeslie's avatar

As I said, I am in FL now, so very few bees. But, the water source is interesting new information for me that I do find useful. Thanks.

ibstubro's avatar

I think rain is predicted here, @JLeslie. I’m interested to see if that effects the popularity of my bee pond.

Ground bees are the only bees that scare me. Huge, vicious looking beasts that are very active. I don’t know the technical name, but they burrow nests into the ground.

gailcalled's avatar

Various ground bees.

“Before you decide to evict your ground bees, consider this. These bees serve an important purpose as pollinators. They’re not aggressive, and in most cases, you can still mow your lawn and continue your regular outdoor activities without fear of being stung. And nesting activity is limited to spring, so ground bees won’t stay for long. Unless you have concerns for a family member with a bee venom allergy, it’s usually preferable to leave ground bees alone.

ibstubro's avatar

Good info, @gailcalled. The only bees I actively evict are wasps. I have been stung in the past, they seem aggressive to me, and they love the eaves around my doors and windows. They also seem to be very abundant.

JLeslie's avatar

The ground bees seem very docile to me relatively speaking.

gailcalled's avatar

I understand that being stung is briefly unpleasant (I apply an ice cube), but they are so important for the plant food supply, that coexistence is vital. Hornets and wasps eat many insects (most of them annoying ones).

I have borer (carpenter) bees—huge and scary but really benign—who bore completely symmetrical 5/8” holes in the horizontal cedar headers above my garage doors. Then they lay eggs in the tunnels; then the sapsuckers hear the rustling of the larvae and rip off pieces of the cedar in order to get to the larvae.

I just ignore the whole lot. At some point the side of my garage will fall down. I’ll deal with it then. I find piles of sawdust and strips of cedar on my driveway apron all the time.

JLeslie's avatar

I lived in the woods in TN, the bees and wasps had many many places to make nests within 100 feet of my house without nesting in my house.

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