Updated: Jan 10
Building a Pollinator Habitat = Water
Dr. Becki Lynch, Bloom and Grow Garden Society
December 29, 2021
Pollinators require food, nesting sites, and water to survive and thrive. Let’s start with information on their need for water. Would seem to be a simple answer, but --
Water/moisture is required, yes, for all pollinators to be healthy – why?
Pollinators need water just like we do, to keep their bodies functioning healthily. In particular it aids with processes such as digestion.
On hot days honey bees use water to cool down the temperature of their hive via evaporation.
Honey bees use water when making honey. They use the water to dilute it and prevent the honey from crystallising.
Butterflies take up important minerals via drinking water – this is why they can often be found drinking from “dirty” puddles.
Most moisture needs for bees and butterflies are supplied by the nectar/food present in the flower, and by dew caught on leaves and in plant crevices overnight.
Having additional water easily available, however, DOES effect the distance they have to travel whilst foraging. Particularly in Florida, with our sun and heat, it breaks up their journey and prevents exhaustion.
Provide a water station through plants or shallow basking spots.
Plants that hold water/dew are most natural for bees/moths – Check out various urn plants –
Fountains, pools, ponds and streams are options.
Fill a bird bath, install a water garden or set out a container of water.
Make sure your water sources have a shallow or sloping side. This is so the pollinators can easily approach the water and not drown.
Here are directions for a simple, yet effective water station:
You will need:
A shallow dish – I use the large bottom clay plate used for clay pots. Natural materials are preferred by pollinators over metals or plastics.
Gravel, Pebbles of a variety of sizes – large flat pebbles are preferred by butterflies.
Place the pebbles on the bottom – try to have varying heights for various sizes of bees.
Fill the dish with water to about 2/3 of the way, making sure the tops of the pebbles are above the water. The pebbles provide a place for the pollinators to stand whilst drinking as they cannot swim.
Place in the garden close to/in the middle of plants – try one on the ground and one about 2-3 ft. high (birdbath).
Place where it is protected from the wind (many forget this – pollinators expend too much energy trying to stay still at the water stand when it’s windy – can’t relax!)
Replace the water regularly or replenish when empty
There is no need to add any sugar or honey to the water station. Bees and butterflies get a much more nutritious food supply from the nectar and pollen in flowers as opposed to an artificial sugar syrup.
So there you go – hope you can add a water station or two to your property in the next month before we head on to – Nesting/Protection!!