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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 18th year of beekeeping in April 2023. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
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Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Corks and the Bees Water Supply

 When I set up the bird bath, I wasn't thinking of the bees. There is water in my neighborhood - a nearby creek and feeder streams all over - so plenty of water available. But the first warm day this winter, I noticed bees in my bird bath, struggling to maintain their footing and a couple of dead bees in the water. I immediately added wine corks. Only a couple. I want the birds to use the water AND I wanted to accommodate the bees.

I noticed a very interesting feature of the corks when I was watching the bees in the bird bath yesterday.  You'll see too when you look closely at this photo:

Look at the unfocused bee on the cork. Her proboscis is stuck down in the cork. She is using the porous cork to suck up water absorbed into it, rather than risk drowning by balancing her way down to the surface of the water.

At the MABA short course on Saturday, several people asked how long is the bee's proboscis. I believe from watching them on the corks that her proboscis is a little over 1/8". This is why the plant: bee balm (crimson monarda) is not a flower that our honey bee can use as a nectar source. A hummingbird has a long enough tongue to gather from bee balm, but not the honey bee.

Even with the cork, there are bees who drown, but it at least provides a modicum of safety for those searching for water. The bees floating in the water are dead. But the ones on the back cork in the first photo look like they are winning the bee log-rolling contest. They are actually getting water between the two corks which don't move because the ice in the bird bath has glued them together.


  1. Can you put some rocks or wire to hold the corks in place.

    1. You can do anything you want to hold the corks in place. Or you can just use large rocks to give them a place to stand. I want the corks floating so that they will move when a bird wants to use the bird bath as such. But I have in another yard created a water source that was made of two plant saucers with rocks in the inner saucer serving as a water source. I planted things in the out saucer.

  2. Because this post is over 10 years old, you can't find it in a search from blogspot on this blog but here is a post about using plant saucers:

  3. Nice idea Linda but how about pinning something with a bit of weight and which won't rust into the side of the cork so it doesn't roll. In fact if you get the weight right, the cork will sit lower in the water which will give the bees a better cork/water edge to drink from.

    1. I was just joking about the bees as log rollers. Bees are so light and tiny that the cork doesn't move at all when bees land on it. People use all kinds of things in water to provide bee landing places: styrofoam peanuts, plant sticks, popsicle sticks.

  4. Esther3:50 PM

    So bee balm isn't! I wonder why it's called that?


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