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How to make your own bee trough in your garden – ideas for environmentally friendly insect trough.

If you want to provide water for bees in the garden area and thus help the environment, you can make a bee watering trough yourself. These beneficial insects do important work for the health and safety of their hive from sunrise to sunset. Collector bees travel up to 5 miles from the colony to get pollen. Once the pollen hives overflow, the bees buzz back to the hive at 24 mph, release the protein-rich pollen to the brood, and get back on the road. Creating an insect watering trough is therefore a simple and useful way to provide clean drinking water for the bees and support the overall life of the hive. Here are some ideas you can implement in your garden.

Why you should make a bee trough yourself and help bees

honey bees carry water to the hive from specially made water station

When they explore the wide world, bees are on the lookout for four things: Pollen, nectar, propolis (or bee glue) and water. They drink water to quench their thirst, but they also collect it internally, in what’s called the honey stomach, and haul it back to the hive. There, water is used in a variety of ways. In addition to a healthy diet of nectar, pollen and royal jelly, the developing larvae need plenty of water to grow from helpless larvae into industrious bees.

water station for honey bees in the garden with glass container in the middle and saucer

Although bees are quite capable of finding their own water sources, they are not always clean and safe. Polluted waterways, chlorinated water, and pesticide-laden runoff are not good for bees or other wildlife. Therefore, it would make sense to help them by making a bee watering trough yourself with various materials.

make your own hanging bee trough in the garden from recycled materials

However, bees cannot land on the water surface. To eliminate the risk of drowning, always add small landing sites where the insects can settle. Stones, gravel, twigs or sticks and corks are some of the things you can use to provide a safe haven for bees. Thus, they get a safe access to the water without slipping into it.

Use scented water

beekeeper pours fresh water into a box for the bee population


Bee researchers believe that bees find water by smell rather than sight. In addition, they are most attracted to water that exudes the earthy aromas of nature. Insects are more likely to ignore pure water sources straight from the tap and instead look for sources that smell like wet soil, decay, aquatic plants, moss, worms and salt. Help bees find your watering hole by sprinkling some salt in the water. However, you should only do this initially – once a few bees discover your watering hole, they will remember the location.

Finding the right place for the insect watering hole

choosing a suitable place in the garden for do-it-yourself bee waterer

Once it becomes apparent to the insects that your watering trough is in the right place, you will have flocks of bees shoulder to shoulder around the basin. So before you make and set up the bee waterer yourself, choose a highly visible spot. However, you should keep this away from high traffic areas of the garden. If this is in the garden area where there are flowers that bees find delicious, you will also help them find your water source more easily.

bees landed on colored gravel drinking water in a sunny garden

Replace the water at least once a week and much more often on really hot and sizzling days when bees need extra cooling for the hive. However, you do not need to drain the water. Just fill up the trough with fresh water and let the excess run over the edges of the basin. Mosquito eggs deposited in the standing water will be washed away.

Make the bird bath in the garden bee-friendly, too.

plate filled with stones acts as an environmentally friendly insect waterer outdoors

You can also easily make the wide and shallow basin of a bird bath into a bee watering hole yourself, thereby repurposing it. Just add pebbles or other perches for bees. You can pile the stones on one side or spread them evenly across the bottom of the tub, as long as there are several dry landing zones in the water. As an added bonus, you’ll likely attract a few butterflies to the garden by creating a pebble-filled bee bath. Just like bees, butterflies can’t land on water and would appreciate a safe place to rest and drink.

Recycle bird feeder tube and make bee watering hole yourself.

reusing a bird bath as a DIY bee waterer and placing it in the garden

Bees suck up liquids with a straw-like tongue or proboscis. When fully extended, the proboscis measures about half an inch, allowing bees to reach into the deepest parts of flowers and access the sweet nectar, or in this case, refreshing water. Feeder or tube allow creatures with long snouts to slurp the drink through numerous openings. Fill it up with clear water instead of sugar water and it becomes a fantastic water station for bees.

Turn clay pots upside down and use as insect drinkers

turn large clay pots upside down and use them as insect drinkers for the garden area

A DIY bee watering hole project can also be easily done by using flower pots. To do this, turn a clay pot upside down and place the matching saucer on top. It would be best to use a pot that is at least 20 cm wide. The larger the pot and saucer combination, the more water the watering trough will hold. Terracotta pots also have a wonderful, natural look that will add a rustic touch to your garden. You can leave them as they are, or jazz up the repurposed insect watering hole with some craft paint. Place them in a flat spot in your garden and fill the saucer with rocks or pebbles. Then pour some water into it and welcome your new found friends.

Make a natural looking bee watering hole yourself.

make your own natural bee drinker and fill it with branches and stones as landing stations for insects

This is a truly inspiring way to make your bees feel right at home. A bee trough like this is filled to the brim with things you can pick up from the forest floor. You can pack the mixture of rocks, moss, grass, leaves, twigs, shells, pine cones, and flower branches into the basin accordingly. This will allow the bees to absorb water without even getting their feet wet. This can also be created in a bird bath, but you can use any shallow dish to house various parts of nature’s bounty.

Use other containers as a watering hole

hobby gardener transplanting flowers with gardening tools

Creating an insect watering hole does not have to be elaborate. Any waterproof container will do to provide fresh water for bees or butterflies in the garden right away. Look around your home for possible containers – shallow pans like casserole dishes, pie plates and baking sheets would also work for this. Don’t overlook deeper containers like buckets or troughs. These are fine as long as you fill them all to the top with rocks or use floats like twigs and wine corks. Even an upside-down Frisbee disc would do in a pinch, so let your imagination run wild when looking for possible water containers around the house. The local bee population will be buzzing with gratitude.