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article imageOp-Ed: Bees need water too. Here is a simple way to provide water Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Aug 4, 2016 in Lifestyle
As summer continues with intensely sunny days and warm moonlit nights, a thoughtful custom that many people in some towns (like Sonoma) do is to provide water set out for pets, along merchant corridors.
While four-legged canine family members greatly benefit from thoughtful care, another group of residents of the six-legged kind, would greatly appreciate the same bit of accommodation. This busy group is often overlooked. They are the honey bee. The highly prized golden nectar they produce is something we humans have relied upon for centuries. And, if honey were to disappear, no doubt we would miss it terribly.
Spring and summer is their peak season. And each region or county across the nation is blessed to have its own unique types and flavors of honey. From clover honey to blossom honey, a rich agricultural landscape enables bees to buzz about collecting pollen to make their delicious honey. The pollinating bees do is essential to flowers and fruit trees everywhere.
Providing a water source for honey bees helps to ensure their important work and survival. It is common for people to set up bird feeders in their backyards. Yet, making a watering spot for honeybees would be of great benefit. It is very easy and takes little time.
"Use a pie pan or shallow bowl," says farmer and homesteader Anna Hess. In my own effort to create a bee water dish, I placed a set of at least 40 marbles or more on the bottom of a terracotta potted plant coaster. "Add water but only enough to the point where the marbles are not completely submerged. The honeybees need to be able to land safely and drink without drowning," Hess says.
Some noted on Anna s web blog  The Walden Effect  that any puddle or amount of standing water might ...
Some noted on Anna's web blog "The Walden Effect" that any puddle or amount of standing water might attract mosquitos. Yet, if checked frequently and replenished with fresh water, that is less likely to happen. More likely is an accessional yellow-jacket, or better yet butterfly might stop by. Butterflies need water too.
“It is better to use plain water rather than sugar water if you're just helping out random bees," she adds. Describing herself as a “back-to-the-land farmer,” she graciously reached out to this reporter, who was doing a little article for The Sonoma Valley Sun. Hess provided more details about how to provide water for honeybees. She and her staff manage a farm in Virginia and post information and helpful tips on their website blog called “The Walden Effect.” “Since we have our own beehives," says Hess, "We know when the colonies' honey stores are low and they need a pick-me-up." Sugar water is a bit of a quick fix for bees. It is not as good for them as wild nectar and pollen, according to Hess, but sometimes it is necessary to get them through the winter. "[In] California where winters are much more mild, I think it best to stick to just plain water for wild feeding. Placing the watering dish in direct sunlight or shade, she said should both be equally fine.”
An attractive conversation piece for a backyard summer party, Hess uses plain ‘crystal clear’ glass marbles. Sonoma realtor-turned-author Catherine Sevenau saw the idea on Facebook and commented, “bees particularly like the cat eyes type of marbles.” She laughed for a moment when she pointed out to this reporter, "how appropriate this idea catches my attention, because my new book "Queen Bee" has me buzzing about, on speaking and book-signing engagements." Sevenau just completed a speaking engagement at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. Sevenau also notes how making a honeybee water-feeder is a great idea for kids. "Something like this is a simple way to teach kids the importance of something as small as the honeybee (to respect them and not fear them) and to recognize the honeybee's impact upon the ecosystem."
Place bee watering dish near a spot where bees like to visit  such as a flowering bush or set of flo...
Place bee watering dish near a spot where bees like to visit, such as a flowering bush or set of flowers. Wisteria is a favorite of not only honey bees, butterflies too.
Fine Line Art Supply and Custom Framing on West Napa Street in Sonoma has marbles. “Coincidentally, my father has beehives," said Fine Line owner Zac McCormick. "This is a great idea and so easy to put together. Tell your readers of The Sonoma Valley Sun, this is the place to get marbles for making a bee watering spot.” Another place in Sonoma to get marbles is Tiddle E Winks, Vintage Five and Dime, less than 1 block away from the Plaza, which is at the heart of town.
Hess noted how important it is for people to take a moment and recognize how vital the role is that the honeybee plays in our environment. Groups like GreenDustries are working to raise greater awareness of bees and to support conservation and protection efforts. Many of the things we enjoy during spring and summer months, like fresh produce, are possible largely due to this little, six-legged winged creature and its complex social colonies. As GreenDustries noted, "The honey bee is a major pollinator of many of our food crops, almonds, apples, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, sunflowers, watermelon and many other crops all rely on honey bees for pollination."
For more information and instruction on how to make your own bee watering spot, check out Anna’s blog at The Walden Effect web site.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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