Category Archives: wasps

Testing the water – flying insects seem to prefer dirty water

At home, I have, like many people, been making sure there is ample water available to wildlife during this hot dry weather. I’m offering a variety of choices, though all dishes have twigs or stones in them, so that insects who fall in have a means of escape. There is deeper water for birds wishing to bathe and shallow water for insects. The birds prefer deeper water, which is what I expected but, so far, a dish made up to look like a dirty puddle is the one the bees, wasps and flies are going to.

This is the favoured water source for bees, wasps and flies

The water is approximately 0.5cm to 1cm deep with twigs and leaves in it. I had heard from a fellow bee-keeper that bees prefer dirty water and what I see appears to bear this out.

A wasp drinks at the ‘dirty puddle’ dish

Rusty at the blog Honey Bee Suite speculates that not only is dirty water more apparent to bees, because they smell it more easily than see it, they are also looking for nutrients not available in clean water. This also fits in with bees scratching about in wet compost last year – I wasn’t sure what they were doing, but they must have been drinking from the compost.

Bees on wet compost

As Rusty says: ‘If you want to provide a water source for your bees, keep it shallow, provide stepping stones or rafts, and wait for the slime to appear’. Yep, that does the trick!