From a beekeeper
Oh dear – I keep hearing tips about leaving bowls of sugar water out to “help” keep bees hydrated. Please, please, please DON’T. Bees are really good at finding what they need and there are so many reasons not to do this. The MOST IMPORTANT reason is that if you within 3 miles of some hives (and most people are) if the bees find the sugar water they’re going to think its a great source of easy food, go back to the hive and recruit more bees to come and collect the “food” and before you know it you’ll have 1.000s and 1,000s of bees descending on your garden/balcony – a very scary sight. This is known as robbing and as beekeeper I’ve seen this a couple of times – once started it is impossible to stop until the source of the “food” has gone.
Other reasons not to do this are – sugar water is essentially “junk” food for bees. Its full of carbohydrates which will give them an energy burst, but has no other nutritional value unlike the food they should be having i.e. nectar.
Honey bees will store this as honey in the hive. The beekeeper unknowingly may end up extracting and selling this as honey later in the year. You don’t want to buy sugar syrup and the beekeeper doesn’t want to be prosecuted for selling a product which isn’t honey.
This is also an easy food source for social wasps.
By all means give a tired bee a drink of sugar water on a spoon, but please don’t leave it out for them.
If you want to help bees there are lots of ways you can do this from planting nectar rich plants or leaving out bowls of water with gravel/small pebbles in so they can access the water which they would be very grateful for.
PLEASE SHARE THIS AND TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS
Edited – It appears that a lot of the advice I have seen about leaving out sugar water stems from advice from DAVID ATTENBOROUGH (Now reported as FAKE NEWS). He was absolutely right in his advice, but his advice was if you see a struggling bee to put some sugar water where the bee could reach it – not to leave out bowls of sugar water. Unfortunately it seems like, as usual, media publications have misquoted advice and not done their research
Also please don’t feed bees honey. Surprisingly they don’t eat honey – they eat nectar. Honey bees make honey for their own use during the winter months, but bumble bees collect and use nectar as and when they need it.
Feeding honey can spread disease between bees.