As an “urban” bee keeper it is very important to take steps to also be a good neighbor. Which means, sooner or later you will have to learn how to keep your bees out of your neighbor’s pool.
Having bees can cause trouble in the neighborhood if your bees are constantly drowning in your neighbor’s pool, or trying to drink the sweat off of your neighbor’s neck while they are mowing.
This is a pretty common complaint, and one I had to deal with recently when a neighbor showed up on my doorstep one fine Saturday morning demanding I get my bees out of her bird bath.
I understand her concern, and assured her I would work on the matter. It is a simple fact that bees need access to fresh water. In the summer they literally work themselves to death flying millions of miles bringing nectar back to their hive.
If you do not provide the water, your bees will find their own supply (as seen in my sustainable system video). It does not have to be complicated; a bird bath will work as long as you have something in place for the bees to land on so that they do not drown in the water.
Bees Like Mineral Water
However, just like many people would choose a cool sports drink over warm water bees have their preferences, and given the choice between plain water and the mineral filled sweat of your neighbor – the bees will take the mineral water.
If you have two neighbors with pools, and one uses a salt water system, and the other uses chlorine, bees are attracted to the salt water.
If we realize this, there are some additional steps you can do to enhance the water you provide.
I learned the following tip from our state apiarist during a lecture on Tennessee regulations on bees, and how to help your bees coexist in a neighborhood.
How I Kept My Bees from the Neighbor’s Pool
A small animal mineral block, like the ones used in rabbit cages, can be used in your bird bath. It gives the bees some added nutrition.
What I did was take a small stainless steel bowl filled with water, planted the salt block right in the bottom of the bowl.
Then I balanced a strip of rabbit cage screen in the bowl. That keeps them from drowning. The bees can perch on the screen and have access to the water.
I put this bowl at about waist height about 20 feet away from the hives.
I routinely refill the bowl, and replace the block as it is depleted.
Finally, I haven’t had any more complaints, and I can watch my bees drink from the bowl I supplied.
In my state I am legally protected as a beekeeper. Therefore, my neighbor doesn’t really have a lot they can do about my bees. However, I must take reasonable precautions in how I keep them.
That being said, in the long run, being a good neighbor and preventing problems is much easier.