Open Up a Pollinator Watering Hole

August 10, 2019

READ TIME: 2 MINS

What do the super social pollinators like migrating monarchs have in common with the solitary pollinators like ground bees? They both love a good visit to the local watering hole!

Like humans, pollinator species need to stay hydrated—especially in the hotter months when they’re busy flying pollen from plant to plant. Pollinators expend plenty of energy when active, and like most living creatures are primarily composed of water. Honeybees in particular use water in interesting ways—for personal cooling, controlling the humidity of the hive, preparing their food (diluting stored honey), and digestion (like humans and other living creatures).

Providing a fresh source of water is sometimes overlooked when we create pollinator habitats. You can certainly buy one from a garden centre or specialty store, but it’s more cost effective (and fun!) to make your own.

The “Velvet Lounge” Pollinator Watering Hole

Insect pollinators haven’t really mastered the ‘drinking while flying’ maneuver. Without a perch, they can easily drown in water that’s taller than they are (which, let’s face it, is pretty much all sources of running water). Ever wonder why you find bees and other insects floating in the swimming pool in the morning? That’s why.

Creating a shallow source of fresh water with a perch for pollinators to land on is the high-end lounge of the DIY pollinator watering hole world. 

We found this fun blueprint on Pinterest:

  1. Grab a pie plate, or other shallow container that’s watertight.
  2. Add a bag of marbles or glass pebbles to the pie plate and place outside on a flat, level surface.
  3. Fill the pie plate up with water, so that the waterline is slightly below the marbles / glass pebbles (they should stick up like little islands).
  4. Place near your pollinator patch of native wildflowers!

Pollinating insects (like bees) will land on the marbles and hunch over to drink water, avoiding drowning. Make sure to change the water frequently to avoid attracting mosquitoes.

Bonus points for this design: sunlight glinting off the marbles and pie plate will really freak out pigeons, causing them to go somewhere else to poop =)

Don’t forget to check out the fun pollinator-themed design kits we’ve created! A portion of each sale will be donated to the David Suzuki Foundation’s pollinator program. Learn more »

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