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It's hot out and I have one hive that seems super strong, yet they completely ignore the water I have in front of their hive, as well as my kid's wading pool in the yard. We live in a dry area, with the closest body of water about a mile away and down hill. How far will bees go to get water, and why don't they use the sources I have provided? I did not put out their water dish till it started to get hot, are they just used to going elsewhere?
 

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Hi Pete...as I understand, if bees lock in on a water source they will bypass a closer source. Although, they change up their patterns just as I think I have them figured out. I found a peculiar amount of bees drinking from my swimming pool which is 1/4 mile from my bee yard. I checked my water source in the bee yard and it was dry as a bone. They resumed to the yard once I filled the water cans. I don't think it's unreasonable for them to travel a mile for their water...
 

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They will travel as far as needed to collect water, as would any animal. They usually prefer dirty water to clean water seems like. As blueblood said once they get locked onto something it is hard to change their minds.
 

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It could also be that they are receiving adequate amounts of water from the nectar they are collecting. Concentrating the nectar into honey is a process that cools the hive. When the honey flow ends. then they'll start looking for water sources in earnest.
 

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It could also be that they are receiving adequate amounts of water from the nectar they are collecting. Concentrating the nectar into honey is a process that cools the hive. When the honey flow ends. then they'll start looking for water sources in earnest.
Very interesting.
 

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a drop or two of lemon oil will almost always assist bees in locating a water supply.... no matter where you place the water. since bees are very olfactory driven the less pure the water the harder it likely is for them to find the water (pure water has no smell). I have also heard of folks adding a pinch of salt to the water.
 

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great posts, i would also like to add, tecumseh can correct me if i am incorrect on this. you said you placed the water in front of the hive? seems i read somewhere, water placed close or within a certain short distance of the hive will largely be ignored and only visited by single bees that 'stumble' across it. the material i read suggested that within this distance the bees cannot communicate to their sisters that the source is there.

i did an 'experiment' myself with this, setting two nucs in place and a water source within 10 feet of the hive, a bird bath, fed primarily by rain water. about 100 feet away was another bird bath.....guess which water supply they went to first? then the neighbor took his pool cover off....oops....some of the bees went there. then i placed a boardman feeder on (don't like them, but used for this purpose). the bees disappeared from the pool source, and some remained at the distant bird bath, and the boardman received alot of use by both hives. i never saw one bee in the bird bath 10 ft from the hive.
 

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It could also be that they are receiving adequate amounts of water from the nectar they are collecting. Concentrating the nectar into honey is a process that cools the hive. When the honey flow ends. then they'll start looking for water sources in earnest.
That would be my guess too. If you smell the air in front of the hive, especially in the evening, I think you'll get a strong scent from the nectar which is evaporated with the water.
 

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I'd like to tack on a little to what riverbee said but use "honey" instead of "water". After extracting last year I laid the extractor and some messy honey coated tools either on top of a hive or right beside it and the stuff was mostly ignored by the bees.

Next day I carry it all to my back porch (150' from the hives) and the bees are ALL OVER IT and they licked everhything clean!

Go figure.

Jim
 
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