Bees like my porch
|This past summer when temps were in the 100's for several days at a time I noticed that bees would come and line up around the edge of my #3 wash tub on my porch that was filled with water for the dogs, and appeared to be drinking water.|
I live at the edge of the Lost Pines Forest near Bastrop in central Texas. It is almost winter now and today has been the first warm sunny day in a week and today they came by the hundreds to my porch and hung around the empty hummingbird feeder instead of the #3 washtub. I figured that they must be hungry so I placed a shallow baking pan with sugar water on the porch. They emptied it within an hour! Are they just hungry?
There are no wild flowers flowering at this time. Is it okay to feed the bees? Or should I just let them fend for themselves? Also, I noticed that there was some fighting going on between some bees hopping on each others backs and such. One last thing. There must be a wild hive close by as I see them leave in the same direction. How close do they stay to their hive?
Thanks so much!
Honeybees will collect water when the weather is very warm. They take it back to their hive and evaporate it to cool the hive, exactly the way a swamp cooler works to cool you house.
It does sound as though there is a hive quite close to you, although bees will fly up to 1½ miles to visit flowers when they're foraging.
I'm not sure whether this behavior means this colony is short of food, or is just taking the opportunity to top up their winter stores.
I don't think there's any harm in giving them this supplement, as long as it doesn't contain too much water. If they're storing the sugar water they will have to evaporate the surplus moisture to prevent fermentation.
Beekeepers often feed their colonies by providing sugar syrup in large containers, perhaps several gallons, with a perforated lid inverted on top of the hives. You might try a mayonnaise jar, with a few small holes punched in the lid with a tack, inverted over a couple of bricks so the bees can get underneath. You might also attract ants, so standing the bricks in a tray of water might be wise.
Fill the container with white sugar to within about an inch of the top. Pour hot water on the sugar until the mixture reaches the same level, an inch from the top. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved, screw on the lid and invert over the bricks when cool.
A strong colony of bees will empty this within a few days if the weather is fine enough.
A plentiful source of sugar such as this can promote fighting amongst the individuals so this might be an indication that there is more than one local hive.
The Bee Guy
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